Lawsuit Filed Exposing the ‘Schuette Political Enterprise’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan

May 31, 2018

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, [email protected]

Lawsuit Filed Exposing the ‘Schuette Political Enterprise’

A convoluted web of organizations, public employees, and millions of dollars serve Bill Schuette’s political ambitions in violation of the law

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. — Attorney General Bill Schuette is running a “vast, wealthy political campaign apparatus” from his public, taxpayer-funded office in violation of the State Constitution and Civil Service Commission rules, a lawsuit announced today states.

The suit details the relationship between Schuette, eight known entities, his various public staff, and the mechanisms used to funnel money around a political power web designed to further Schuette’s political career, which the suit refers to as the “Schuette Political Enterprise.”

The suit was filed by Hugh Madden, communications director at Progress Michigan, and was unveiled on Mackinac Island outside of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel. A copy of the lawsuit (in two parts) can be read here and here.

“Trust in our elected officials is paramount to a healthy democracy, which is why I want to expose this abuse of power and the public’s trust by Attorney General Bill Schuette,” said Hugh Madden. “As the state’s top law enforcement official, Bill Schuette should know better, but unfortunately he’s used his time in office and the time of his public employees to advance his own interests, rather than those of the hardworking families of Michigan. Schuette must answer for years of abuse.”

“Never has a Michigan Attorney General, or any statewide elected official under the current State Constitution, operated such a vast, wealthy political campaign apparatus from his or her government office using government employees,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit identifies eight known organizations and a menagerie of attorney general’s office staff who make up the Schuette Political Enterprise, including organizations linked to Schuette such as candidate committees, non-profits, and independent expenditure committees.

Organizations that make up the Schuette Political Enterprise include:

  • Bill Schuette for Michigan, Schuette’s candidate committee for AG
  • Bill Schuette for Governor, Schuette’s candidate committee for governor
  • The Michigan Advocacy Trust, the attack arm of Schuette’s Political Enterprise
  • The Bill Schuette Administrative Account, which pays for Schuette promotion and other expenses, including travel for a revolving door of political/public staff
  • On Duty for Michigan, an issue advocacy non-profit that has paid for things such as Schuette’s inauguration activities
  • Michigan’s Tomorrow, which funnels money to another Schuette Enterprise organization and pays for Schuette issue-ads
  • Republican Attorneys General Association, which Schuette used to chair and has donated over $1 million to Schuette’s Political Enterprise
  • Better Jobs Stronger Families, an Independent Expenditure Committee made to help Schuette’s 2018 gubernatorial run

In addition to the web of organizations operating on Schuette’s behalf, public staff in his publicly-funded office “have been placed in those positions between elections as a political patronage reward for their campaign work and to insure that they are available for Schuette’s perpetual political campaigns,” the suit states. “…and their political activity creates a conflict of interest with their official duties.”

For example: Carter Bundy, after leaving the Romney for President campaign in Michigan, he began a $40,000-a-year job in Schuette’s office. However, left a year later to work on Schuette’s AG reelection campaign and was paid nearly $62,000 by Bill Schuette for Michigan. After the campaign was over, Bundy again returned to his AG job — receiving a massive raise to $72,000 a year. Bundy, once again, has taken a leave of absence from his public AG job to work full-time on Schuette’s gubernatorial campaign, for which he has received at least $72,000 from the Schuette Political Enterprise.

Bundy’s situation is just one example of the “revolving door between the Schuette Political Enterprise and the Department of Attorney General, keeping political campaign staff employed at public expense during and between political campaigns,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit was filed on Wednesday, May 30th with the Michigan Court of Claims by Madden’s attorney, Mark Brewer of Goodman Acker. This type of complaint requires that a Michigan citizen, not an organization, file the suit.

A copy of the lawsuit (in two parts) can be read here and here.

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