Roadblock to reform? Police-politics pipeline feeds donations to Michigan lawmakers

July 07, 2020, 9:29 AM

Three-quarters of current Michigan legislators have received campaign donations from groups representing police officers, deputies and prison guards.

That fact emerges from data-crunching by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN), a Lansing nonprofit organization that examines the role of money in Michigan politics.

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It announces that "112 of the 147 state legislators currently serving have received donations from a police union in the last 10 years, either to their campaigns or an associated leadership PAC."

The unions have collectively made more than $1.4 million in political contributions since 2010, donating in contests ranging from the gubernatorial election to local judgeships, according to data compiled by MCFN. ...

The unions identified by MCFN have given liberally to officials in both parties, though the majority of the largest unions' money went to Republicans, who have spent nearly all of the last decade in full control of state government and currently control both chambers in the legislature. ...

Since 2000, the Detroit Police Officers Association (DPOA) has contributed more than $340,000 to candidates inside the city running for all levels of government and nearly $500,000 statewide. Only a little more than a fifth of that money was spent in the past 10 years.

A post by Simon D. Schuster, the network's executive director since last November, gives context for its look at law enforcement campaign contributions:

The killing of George Floyd in police custody and the widespread calls for change that followed have focused on the purported influence of police unions as a roadblock to reform. . . .

For the most part, [Michigan] police unions have contributed to officials with the most direct control over their department's funding and working conditions.

The largest contributor in state politics is the union representing Michigan State Police (MSP) troopers, which spent nearly $500,000 in donations since 2010. Among elected officials in state government now, they've given approximately $107,000 to Democrats and $173,000 to Republicans.

The state House in June adopted a resolution against "defunding police" departments, which passed with bipartisan support.

Data detailsMCFN spreadsheet shows police-related donors and recipients

Read more:  Michigan Campaign Finance Network

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