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Redistricting still hasn’t paid for sigs; money going to progressive efforts

October 31, 2017

Article courtesy of MIRS News Service

The redistricting group Voters Not Politicians (VNP) claims to have collected nearly 300,000 signatures in two months’ time, but campaign finance reports released Wednesday show the group still hasn’t paid any signature gathering firms.

VNP sent out an email Oct. 19 noting its “unprecedented success of collecting nearly 300,000 signatures from every one of Michigan’s 83 counties.” 

The group began signature-gathering officially after getting its constitutional amendment petition approved to form in August.

Yet, VNP’s campaign finance report filed Wednesday show no expenditures conspicuously paid to signature-gathering firms. The committee has shelled out roughly $20,000 to Practical Political Consulting for signature verification. 

Meanwhile, the group pulled in $70,800 during the period of Sept. 12 to Oct. 20, with $278,297 collected overall. 

VNP still has $154,532 on hand after spending $38,036 in the period and $123,764 overall. 

The group needs at least 315,654 valid signatures collected in six months’ time to be considered for validation. 

Here’s a rundown of some of the other ballot question drives out there: 

Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol – Legalize Recreational Marijuana 
The group pushing legalized recreation marijuana spent more than it took in during the recent reporting period. 

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) spent $93,978 after taking in $88,644, with just $6,297 left over. 

Overall, CRMLA has raised $606,932 and spent $600,635. The Marijuana Policy Project is still a major funder of the effort, dumping a cumulative $106,508 in direct contributions. 

In addition to paying for signatures via National Petition Management, a good chunk of the $387,780 of in-kind help has come in the form of signature gathering done by a variety of entities, ranging from MILegalize to Smoker Outlet Management, which are associated with the Will Bill’s Tobacco stores. 

According to the Bureau of Elections, Thanksgiving time is roughly when CRMLA’s signatures may start becoming stale and void, based on when its petition was approved to form. 

An opposition group — Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools — has stood pat — it didn’t raise or spend anything in the recent period. 

MI Time To Care – Paid Sick Leave 
The group pushing for required paid sick leave is back on the scene, this time with some big dollar donors it’s using to pay for signatures. 

MI Time To Care reported collecting $300,000 in the period between Sept. 9 and Oct. 20, spending $215,731 in that time and ending with $240,378. 

Of its contributions, $200,000 has come from a Washington D.C.-based progressive advocacy group known as the Sixteen Thirty Fund. 

Another $103,800 of its total contributions come from a D.C. organization calling itself The Fairness Project which, according to its website, is promoting minimum wage ballot initiatives across the country. 

And the group appears to be paying AAP Holding Co., out of California, for signature gathering — roughly $191,000, according to its reports. 

The increased war chest and paid signature gathering efforts are a departure for this group that had petition language approved at least twice before on paid sick leave, but couldn’t close the deal on gathering the required signatures. 

Previously, the group had recruited in-kind help on signature gathering, but hadn’t spent much directly on petition gathering, which is often seen as necessary to get a petition across the finish line for certification.

Michigan One Fair Wage – Increase Minimum Wage 
The latest drive to boost the minimum wage — this one for $12 an hour — has $509,353 ready to be spent. 

Michigan One Fair Wage was able to secure $289,350 in total from Raise Michigan, another ballot committee that has drawn substantial support from the UAW. 

Other contributors to the minimum wage drive include the Restaurant Opportunities Center for $125,000 and the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan for $75,000. 

The committee brought in all $509,500 of its funds in the most recent period, and spent only $1,246 of it in that time. 

Protecting Michigan Taxpayers – Repeal Prevailing Wage
The group pushing for prevailing wage dumped more than a half-million dollars into its signature gathering efforts as its campaign nears the six-month mark. 

Protecting Michigan Taxpayers (PMT) pulled in $530,500 in the most recent reporting period, bringing its contributions to $1.3 million overall, with the bulk of the group’s money coming from one place: the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Michigan. 

The campaign has $132,591 on hand after spending $590,245 in this period and $1.2 million overall. 

According to the Bureau of Elections, around Thanksgiving time is when PMT would be close to hitting the initial six-month mark where older signatures could start to become stale and void, based on when the group had its petition approved to form in May.

Both Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) and House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) have voiced support for approving the prevailing wage repeal if it gets to the Legislature.

If the Legislature doesn’t muster the votes, the question will be if ABC of Michigan would dump even more than it has already put in to mount a public campaign to persuade voters to consider the measure in November 2018. 

The other question would be if unions mobilize enough to shoot that campaign down. 

Protect Michigan Jobs, the union-backed ballot committee that has been associated with the opposition effort to PMT, raised $55,000 this period and spent another $23,527, leaving it with $75,752 in the bank. It has raised $765,500 total with much of it coming from various union sources. 

Keep Our Lakes Great – Anti-Line 5 
The group with a petition to cancel the easement on which the Line 5 pipelines sit didn’t collect anything in the period between July 21 and Oct. 20.

The group has just $634 to its name after raising $3,170 total. 

The only notable group to not have its filing present on the Secretary of State website by 5 p.m. was the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group pushing for the legalization of recreational marijuana. 

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