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WSW: "Dark" Money Dominates 2014 Campaign

State Capitol - file photo
Melissa Benmark

Michigan Campaign Finance Network Director Rich Robinson says independent groups dominated the spending in statewide campaigns this year. 

Robinson says outside groups took advantage of Michigan's campaign finance laws to buy advertising time for political commercials. He says much of that spending is hard to track, and often the donors that contribute to those groups is unknown

The 20th state Senate District race in Kalamazoo County was far and away the most expensive one for a seat in the state Legislature. Robinson says much of that money is contributed by the political parties. He says the parties know which seats are likely to be competitive, and know where to spend their money. Robinson says in a third of the legislative districts, a major party candidates doesn't even try to raise enough money to run a competitive campaign. 

Interview with Rich Robinson - web version

In the 61st State House District, which includes Portage, Republican Brandt Ident defeated Democrat John Fisher, even though Fisher's campaign spent more money. Robinson says it was one of only three races for state House where the candidate who spent less money won. He says there were none in the state Senate. 

Asked about the possibility of campaign finance reform in the state Legislature next year, Robinson says he's not optimistic. He says Republicans have worked against efforts to require more disclosure. Robinson says with the GOP's large majorities in the House and Senate, he doesn't anticipate campaign finance being a major issues in the Legislature next year. 

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