Michigan, the state that earned an “F” for governmental transparency, and under Gov. Snyder’s reign vastly expanded the influence of dark money in politics, is very much in need of an ethics overhaul. Lansing was a national joke with the Courser-Gamrat affair dominating the 2015 news cycle, right up until the Flint water scandal sobered-up the media — putting the focus back on the seriousness of the corrupt atmosphere in Michigan’s capital city.
The Wolverine State sure could benefit from a few honest heroes keeping an eye on its elected officials. The nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network has a new leader who intends to do exactly that — Craig Mauger, executive director of the watchdog organization has hit the ground running with a new social media campaign designed to put information on campaign and lobbyist spending directly into the hands of Michigan voters.
Concerned citizens may now follow MCFN on both Facebook and Twitter. Please support the important work of the organization under Mauger’s leadership by following and sharing their social media. You may also subscribe by email to MCFN here.
Mauger comes to MCFN from the Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS News), where for the last three and a half years he focused on the growing role of money in politics. In that position he investigated the purchase of a new Senate office building and he uncovered the story of a top Snyder official taking primary residence tax breaks in two states. Mauger sees his new role at MCFN as a natural continuation of the kind of work he did at MIRS.
“As more money flows into Michigan politics in evolving ways, MCFN’s mission is becoming more important. I look forward to continuing to follow the money, to being a watchdog for the public and to doing it with objectivity, accuracy and integrity.”
In addition to launching social media in his first two weeks, Mauger has been busy putting his investigative journalism skills to work at MCFN. As National Sunshine Week fast approaches, Mauger has been gathering and reporting data about who’s spending what and where.
To that end, Mauger reported this week on Michigan’s 2015 contributions to presidential candidates, a list that reflects some of the usual suspects, including the DeVos Family who lined the coffers of Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush. A couple of sizable contributions came from Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, and ETC Capital, giving $750,000 and $150,000 respectively to America Leads — a committee backing Gov. Chris Christie.
Here’s the line-up of the top ten recipients:
Jeb Bush, Republican, $985,067
Ben Carson, Republican, $692,068
Hillary Clinton, Democrat, $640,070
Marco Rubio, Republican, $567,645
Ted Cruz, Republican, $375,635
John Kasich, Republican, $226,292
Bernie Sanders, Democrat, $193,573
Rand Paul, Republican, $183,603
Carly Fiorina, Republican, $96,923
Martin O’Malley, Democrat, $30,287
And, that’s just the beginning.
Mauger looks like a great fit for the helm of MCFN — a sentiment expressed by Lynn Jondahl, President of the MCFN board.
“Our board is proud and excited to be joined by Craig Mauger, who comes to us with years of award-winning work, finding the information critical to a democracy,” said Jondahl “Craig knows the subject, and he knows Michigan government. His proven skills, passion and integrity will serve all of us well.”
Democracy Tree looks forward to following the work of the MCFN under Mauger’s leadership. This election year is sure to keep him very busy.