Raising alarm bells across Michigan: A look at the unfortunate state of the state

A look at the unfortunate state of the state

HOUGHTON — As Michigan voters prepare to make their way to the polls on Nov. 3, there are many things they must consider before casting their votes. One thing Michigan voters should keep in mind when considering their candidates is a five-year-old report, based on an extensive study conducted by the Center for Public Integrity.

According to the report by the Center for Public Integrity of government accountability and transparency, Michigan ranked dead last among all 50 states in several categories. Its overall grade, therefore, was: F.

“That has a lot to do with a campaign disclosure system that allows “dark” – or undisclosed – funds to seep into half or more of all campaign spending,” reported bridgemi.com in a Jan. 23, 2018 article titled: “Despite low trust of gov’t, Michigan legislators have done little to change.”

Of all 50 states, Michigan scored an F for the categories of Public Access to Information (42nd out of 50 states), Political Financing, Executive Accountability (50th), Legislative accountability (50th), Judicial Accountability (again, dead last), State Pension Fund Management (dead last), Lobbying Disclosure (43rd).

As bridgemi.com stated in its Jan. 23, 2018 article, three years after the corruption report was released: “It’s a question of fundamental democracy in Michigan: How open and accountable is our state government?” Five years after the initial report, the state government has not improved, in spite of an earned distrust of Lansing.

On March 16, 2020, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network reported that a week after the primary election, it was not advertising or organizers “on the ground” that helped Joe Biden achieve a decisive victory against Bernie Sanders in Michigan’s Primary, but rather it was a social media giant.

“But if Facebook was any prelude to what Michiganders can expect in the general election in November,” stated the MCFN report, “dark money organizations could be flooding news feeds. Ten organizations with undisclosed funding spent more than $400,000 from March 4 through March 11, according to the social media platform’s voluntary disclosures.”

The two candidates left in the Democratic primary both received significant support on Facebook from organizations that don’t disclose their funding sources. And in the week leading up to the primary, they represented some of the biggest spenders advertising on Facebook in Michigan, MCFN stated.

A super PAC aligned with the former vice president, Unite The Country, spent $112,000 in the week before the primary on Facebook ads, making it the largest advertiser in Michigan in that time period.

The degree of corruption in the state government, across all branches, compelled U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, in June, 2019, to declare that Michigan is the nation’s most corrupt state.

“The level of corruption in Michigan is staggering,” reported Detroit’s metrotimes.com on June 5, 2019. “It’s Democrats, it’s Republicans, it’s the entire political establishment, which is mostly a cesspool of morally bankrupt dirtbags working on behalf of corporations and the wealthy instead of the middle and lower class.”

Schneider, metrotimes stated, underscored the extent of the problem in an interview with WDIV’s Devin Scillian at the Mackinac Policy Conference.

“Our statistics show we lead the nation in corruption cases, by far,” Schneider told Scillian in 2019. Every state has about one corruption case each year, Schneider said, while larger districts like New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami, usually see around four. In Michigan there were about 18 per year for the last five years.

“We definitely have a more significant corruption issue here in the Michigan region,” Schneider said.

Metrotimes commented that the media has a role in all of it.

“The Michigan press generally isn’t known for challenging the power structure, which is well-represented and celebrated at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference,” the article stated. “And the state’s media elite that joins lobbyists, politicians, corporate executives, and other powerful state players at Mackinac, isn’t there to ask tough questions or challenge anyone — it goes to join in the celebration.”

The article concluded with a thought that is still true more than a year after it was published:

“Until the state’s anchors and reporters replace their lapdog instincts with a drive to to take down those working on behalf of the powerful, Michigan will remain the nation’s most corrupt state.”

Editor’s note: This story is the first in a series looking at some of the issues Michigan voters should be aware of as they enter the election season.


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