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VNP Has $616K In Bank; Paid Sick Leave, Voting Rights Raise $2M+

July 31, 2018

The redistricting reform group got a last-minute infusion of $250,000 from an out-of-state nonprofit to push its fundraising total to $1.4 million.

The latest campaign finance report for Voters Not Politicians (VNP) released Wednesday shows the group now has $616,169 left in the bank, just as the committee begins its ad campaign.

VNP reported a $250,000 contribution from the Action Now Initiative came in July 20, the last day covered by the latest campaign finance reporting period for ballot committees. 

According to Guidestar, Action Now Initiative is a 501(c)4 nonprofit based in Houston, Texas, with the purpose of organizing and supporting “advocacy efforts aimed at informing and educating the public at large particularly in the areas of obesity, education, pension and criminal justice reform” according to the organization’s filing from 2016. 

The organization’s website includes an email address, logo and the statement “Action Now Initiative seeks to improve the lives of individuals through political advocacy.” 

VNP also got a $100,000 check from the UAW, as well as a $15,000 contribution from the Michigan Civic Action Fund, which listed a Madison Heights address. 

The redistricting group spent $373,122 in the past quarter, much of it on legal services provided via Fraser Trebilcock as it tried to ward off a legal challenge that is now before the Michigan Supreme Court. Overall, VNP has spent $875,554 in the cycle. 

The group bringing the legal challenge against VNP, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution (CPMC), reported getting a total of $305,000 and spending $229,386, with $75,959 left over. 

CPMC received just $20,000 in the past quarter from the Realtors PAC of Michigan. But previous reports show the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has been bankrolling the effort. 

With Wednesday being the deadline for ballot committees to disclose recent spending, here’s a look at some of the other active ballot proposals and what has been raised total during the election cycle, as well as their cash-on-hand totals: 

Paid Sick Leave — $2.4M Raised, $500K Cash-On-Hand 

The paid sick leave campaign has pulled in $2.4 million total, including $390,001 in contributions the past quarter. 

MI Time to Care continues to benefit mostly from the out-of-state nonprofit Sixteen Thirty Fund, which has now put in $2.1 million total. 

The group has also gotten some in-kind help from the Fairness Project, another out-of-state nonprofit, as well as from the United Way For Southeastern Michigan. 

The committee has spent $1.9 million total over the cycle, and still has $500,626 in the bank as of this past Friday. 

MI Time to Care’s proposal has been recommended for certification and was on the Board of State Canvassers (BSC) agenda July 26. 

MI Time to Care has found organized opposition in the form of Small Business for a Better Michigan (SBBM), which is supported by a number of business groups.

The SBBM committee reported $80,500 in total contributions, coming from the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Manufacturers Association, the Michigan Bankers Association, Michigan Restaurant Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. 

The opposition committee has spent $51,194 and has $29,305 left over. 

Minimum Wage — $1.4M Raised, $16K Cash-On-Hand 

The committee behind the minimum wage increase proposal reported $325,000 in contributions this past quarter, bringing the total raised to $1.4 million. 

Michigan One Fair Wage is being funded in large part by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) affiliate in Michigan, now having poured $682,500 into the campaign. The UAW also kicked in $100,000 in the past quarter. 

The committee spent $354,850 during the reporting period, and $1.4 million total. It still has $16,950 left in the bank. 

The Secretary of State (SOS) has also recommended certification for the minimum wage proposal, with the Canvassers meeting to consider action July 26. 

Meanwhile, minimum wage opposition committee Michigan Opportunity reported raising $202,550 during the period and $302,650 overall. The group is behind the legal challenge being lodged against Michigan One Fair Wage in the state Court of Appeals (COA). 

The National Restaurant Association is providing support to the effort with $75,000, but some Michigan-based businesses also contributed, including Boyne Resorts with $20,000. Team Schostak Family Restaurants also provided $20,000 to Michigan Opportunity. 

Voting Rights: $2.7M Raised, $232K Cash-On-Hand 

The group behind the voting rights constitutional amendment pulled in $1.5 million in the past quarter, bringing the total raised by Promote the Vote to $2.7 million. 

A big chunk of that is from the national ACLU in New York, which has now poured in $2.2 million total for the campaign. 

Promote the Vote has also benefited from the UAW and its $150,000 contribution, and another $100,000 is from Campaign for Democracy, which is listed at a Los Angeles address. Denise Ilitch, listed as president of Ilitch Enterprises, also chipped in $1,000 to Promote the Vote. 

The committee spent $1.6 million the past quarter, and $2.5 million total, mostly on petition gathering through the firm Fieldworks. The group reported having $232,220 left over at the end of the reporting period. 

The group said it submitted 430,000 signatures to the state, which is still under review. The minimum required for constitutional amendments is 315,654 valid signatures.

Marijuana Legalization: $1.03M Raised, $21K Cash-On-Hand 

The recreational marijuana legalization group — the first proposal officially cleared for the November 2018 ballot — reported raising $113,789 in the past quarter, bringing total contributions over the cycle to $1.03 million. 

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) in Washington, D.C. has been a primary benefactor for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA), with the MPP now having kicked in $444,205 in direct contributions over the cycle. 

A 527 nonprofit called New Approach PAC gave $90,000 as well. The group describes itself on a 2015 tax filing as supporting “the reform of marijuana laws.” 

CRMLA spent $110,575 in the past quarter and more than $1.01 million overall, with $21,039 in the bank. 

There’s organized opposition to CRMLA on at least two fronts. 

Scott Greenlee’s Healthy and Productive Michigan committee reported $277,645 in total contributions, spending $210,093 total and having $67,551 left over. 

The group pulled in $1,625 in the past quarter and spent $149,359 in the same time period. Meijer executive Mark Murray is a $1,000 contributor to the committee. 

Another marijuana opposition group is called the Committee to Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools. The group got $2,500 from the Michigan Jobs Council in the past quarter to make a total raised of $7,500 over the cycle for the committee. 

There’s been $4,424 spent total, and $3,075 left on hand for the Committee to Keep Pot Out of Neighborhoods and Schools. 

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