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Snyder signature codifies Super PAC regulations

September 26, 2017

Gov. Rick Snyder didn’t waste much time signing legislation Wednesday that would codify how the state already oversees political SuperPACs spawned from the 2010 Citizens United court ruling.

SB 0335 and SB 0336 were sent through a House committee, the House floor and the Senate for a concurring vote Tuesday.

The bills, presented to the Governor Wednesday morning around 8 a.m., were signed by 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Office of the Great Seal. 

The bills put into statute current Secretary of State practice for “Super PACs” — independent expenditure committees spawned from the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision — meaning they will continue to be able to collect unlimited donations. 

Republican lawmakers pushed the bills through in advance of an expected formal ruling from the Secretary of State that those who have contributed $500 or more to Super PACs must file as a Super PAC themselves or face fines. 

Elections attorney Bob LaBrant has estimated that if anyone wanted to press the issue after a formal opinion is issued by Sept. 29, contributors could face a combined $1 million in fines. None of this was mentioned by Republican lawmakers or the Governor in their respective statements. 

“The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on this issue more than seven years ago, and still there has been confusion about how this decision affects Michigan law,” Snyder said in a statement. “Under the bills signed into law today, the Department of State finally has clear statutory authority to regulate independent expenditure committees, to mandate registration and reporting of contributions and expenditures, and to investigate and punish entities violating those regulations.” 

Democratic opponents had argued Republicans had an opportunity to create tougher Super PAC standards, but didn’t do so. 

In response to his signing of the bills, Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie Scott said, “Gov. Snyder rode in to Lansing on the white horse of transparency but will leave cloaked in secrecy, driving a hearse carrying our democracy.” 

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters also lamented Snyder’s signing of the legislation. 

The bills were both sponsored by Sen. Dave Robertson (R-Grand Blanc) and are now Public Acts 119 and 120. 

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