Secretary of State Candidate Criticized For Taking Money From State’s Biggest Corporate Election Law Violator
EAST LANSING, MI–Citizens group Progress Michigan was joined by about two-dozen others this morning outside WKAR TV studios in East Lansing to protest Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s accepting a $10,000 campaign contribution from a corporation that violated Michigan’s election laws.
Johnson and her opponent, Jocelyn Benson, were on hand for a debate that will be televised by WKAR beginning today and carried over the weekend on public television. During the debate Benson and Johnson clashed over Johnson accepting campaign contributions from Meijer, which paid the largest campaign fine in Michigan history.
“It is outrageous that Johnson, who wants to be the state’s top election official, would take campaign cash from a company that paid a $190,000 fine for violating Michigan’s election laws,” said David Holtz, Executive Director of Progress Michigan. “Voters need to speak out against this kind of cronyism and corruption and that’s why we’re protesting today. We are demanding that Johnson immediately return this tainted money to Meijer.”
In 2008 Meijer Corporation was fined after it was disclosed that the company paid a public relations firm $30,000 in an attempt to oust Acme Township officials who opposed a store Meijer wanted to build in the township. The money was used to write recall language, ghost-write letters to the editor and other opinions as well as to develop political strategy. Meijer was unsuccessful in the recall election, but the controversy damaged the corporation’s reputation and threw a spotlight on its cozy relationship with current Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, both of whom received campaign contributions from Meijer’s political action committee.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, corporations like Meijer are now free to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns. Meijer’s contribution was made through its political action committee.
“Now, more than ever, Michigan needs a Secretary of State who will be a champion of clean elections,” said Holtz. “We are deeply disappointed that by accepting $10,000 from a known violator of election laws Johnson is not matching her actions with her words as she campaigns to be the person most responsible for keeping Michigan’s elections clean.”