June 19, 2014 at 1:00 am

Political Insider: Cantor's loss a blow to Detroit Metro's largest airline

Newman )

While last week’s primary loss of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia helped reinvigorate the political hopes of many tea party Republican challengers for Congress, it was a loss for Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s largest airline.

Politico reports that Cantor was considered one of the biggest champions on Capitol Hill for Delta Air Lines.

“Now Delta and one of its top lobbyists, Andrea Newman, will no longer have Cantor in their corner — at least not from under the dome,” Politico’s Adam Snider wrote. “...‘Yes, there’s been lots of gallows humor about Andie Newman must be in a really bad mood today,’ said one industry lobbyist.”

Newman did not comment, but Atlanta-based Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said, “Delta has great relationships with a lot of members, on both side of the aisles, in both chambers of Congress, which reflects our significant footprint across the United States.”

Home split

Whether it’s home sales or county cells, Wayne County Commissioner Burton Leland couldn’t escape talking last week about housing.

Earlier this month, Detroit federal judge Arthur J. Tarnow ruled against Leland’s Democratic primary opponent Monique Baker McCormick and kept Leland on the Commission District 6 ballot in part because she did not present overwhelming evidence Leland lives outside his district.

Leland testified in federal court that he guesstimates he spends 60 percent of his time at a home on the city’s west side compared with a house he owns in East Lansing, while McCormick contended he spends more time elsewhere.

The litigation apparently was still on Leland’s mind as he discussed his skepticism about selling the abandoned county jail project site that is tens of millions of dollars over-budget for $50 million to Rock Ventures LLC and building out an unoccupied state prison facility on Mound Road.

“I’m not an engineer. I’m not an architect,” Leland said. “I do a good job of managing my own household — or households, whatever the case may be.”

Return to sender

Apparently pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. didn’t get the memo in October when Gov. Rick Snyder shut down his controversial New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify (NERD) Fund.

Snyder closed the nonprofit “social welfare” organization after being dogged by Democrats about refusing to identify the donors who gave $1.68 million to the fund during the Republican governor’s first two years in office. Snyder used the private money to pay a top aide’s $100,000 annual salary and cover some of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s living expenses.

In January, Snyder’s allies launched a new nonprofit group called Moving Michigan Forward, which is now disclosing its donors and expenditures in quarterly reports on its website.

A $1,000 check Pfizer sent the NERD Fund was subsequently returned sometime last fall, a company spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.

“The check for our $1,000 donation was returned uncashed as a result of the Fund having been disbanded,” Pfizer spokeswoman Sharon Castillo said.

Crash criticism

Republicans have turned up their criticism on Democrats and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups after the tax agency claimed last week it lost all emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and officials outside the IRS from January 2009 to April 2011 because of a “computer crash.”

Conservative pundits have compared what they consider a convenient loss of emails from the official at the center of the IRS scandal as well as those of six other IRS employees to the 18-minute gap in the White House tape-recorded discussion of Watergate between President Richard Nixon and Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman. The Nixon campaign break-ins into the Democratic National Committee office in the Watergate complex and the subsequent cover-up eventually led to Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.

Then it turns out that the National Treasury Employees Union, which includes IRS employees, has contributed $2,500 this year to the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, along with $6,000 for the 2008-2012 period. The three-term congressman from Bloomfield Township is facing Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land in November.

“Gary Peters hasn’t said a word about the missing emails and is sitting back rather than demanding answers,” National Republican Senate Campaign Press Secretary Brook Hougesen said Wednesday.

“National Republicans are grasping at straws because Former National Republican Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land is down in the last six polls and won’t agree to debates,” Peters campaign spokeswoman Haley Morris said in an email.

The Peters campaign Wednesday proposed five town-hall-style debates across Michigan this fall with Land, the former two-time secretary of state.

“We look forward to joint appearances in the fall and will begin those discussions after the primary,” Land spokeswoman Heather Swift responded Wednesday.

Neither Peters nor Land has an opponent in the Aug. 5 primary.

Summer is forum season

The summer solstice is Saturday — and that can only mean the start of a summer of candidate forums leading up to the Aug. 5 primary election.

On Sunday, the Oakland-area League of Women Voters is hosting a forum at 3 p.m. at the Oakland Center Banquet Room at Oakland University in Rochester for candidates seeking the 8th Congressional District seat, which encompasses parts of northern Oakland County and all of Ingham and Livingston counties.

Republican primary opponents Tom McMillin and Mike Bishop are expected to be in attendance.

On Tuesday, McMillin and Bishop will meet again during a forum at the Howell High School auditorium. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. with candidates for the 47th District state House race, followed by the congressional hopefuls for the seat held by outgoing U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell.

On Wednesday night, the League of Women Voters will host candidates for the 14th Congressional District at 7 p.m. in the Smith auditorium of Oakland Community College’s Orchard Ridge campus in Farmington Hills.

All of the events are open to the general public.

Contributors: Steve Pardo, Richard Burr, Chad Livengood

Peters (John L. Russell / Detroit News)
Land (John L. Russell / Detroit News)