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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: Influence, Access And "Blurring The Lines" In Campaign Finance

State Capitol - file photo
Melissa Benmark

The Director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network says proposed legislation to amend the state’s Campaign Finance Act is about access and influence on lawmakers. 

Craig Mauger says Senate Bill 638 is important, and a little bit complicated. It’s been approved by the Senate, and is currently in the state House. Mauger says the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision prohibited limits on spending by independent organizations. He says this bill would blur the lines of what is independent, and make limits on campaign donations less meaningful.

Mauger says the bill would go farther than Citizens United. He says it would expand the definition of an independent committee. Mauger says that would allow for a more direct line from contributor to candidate. 

Interview with Craig Mauger - web version

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network’s analysis of this year’s state House elections showed that candidates who raise the most money win over 90% of the time. But Mauger says the more important issue is influence. He says as campaigns are required to raise more money, donors who are asked for contributions expect something in return.

While the bill was approved by the state Senate last year, it must still pass the House. Mauger says the key could be a group of House Republicans. He says they have co-sponsored a resolution calling for a convention of states to amend the Constitution to restrict independent spending on political campaigns. Mauger says voting for Senate Bill 638 would be at odds with the intent of a Constitutional amendment to regulate independent spending.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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