Gov. Rick Snyder used the Michigan Republican Party’s Mackinac Island leadership conference last September to roll out plans to raise money to support like-minded Republican candidates through new state and federal super political action committees.
Snyder supporters contributed more than $331,000 to the Republican governor’s Relentless Positive Action Super PACs through early April. Bill Parfet, the retired founder of MPI Research in Mattawan, contributed $100,000 alone to the federal Super PAC. Parfet is chairing Snyder’s super PAC.
Other big donors included a $65,000 contribution from the Livonia-based CURE Defense Fund and separate contributions of $25,000 from Meijer Inc. and brothers Robert Taubman and William Taubman, the wealthy Metro Detroit shopping mall developers.
But so far none of the donations has been used to support any candidates running this year for state or federal office.
Instead, more than $147,000 has been spent on law firms, political fundraisers and consultants who are managing the RPA Super PAC. It amounts to 44 percent of the money raised going to anyone but Republican candidates who believe in Snyder’s relentlessly positive governing mantra.
“We’re going to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates,” RPA PAC spokeswoman Bettina Inclan said. “We’re currently building a war chest to make sure we can deploy these resources in the fall when they’re needed the most.”
At last week’s Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, Snyder was asked during an interview with The Detroit News Editorial Board whether his RPA PAC will start donating to candidates soon.
“I wouldn’t say soon, but we will be making moves at some point with the RPA PAC,” Snyder told The News.
Snyder said he wants to support “good solid candidates who believe in relentless positive action who want to support the state’s economy.”
The RPA PAC has promoted Snyder’s accomplishments through sporadic emails to supporters.
A May 19 email to Snyder supporters signed by Parfet touted the state’s 4.8 percent unemployment rate as the lowest rate since 2001 and the addition of 461,900 new jobs in the state since December 2010e.
In the email, Parfet made a pitch for contributions of $25, $50 or $100.
“RPA PAC was created to support common sense problem solvers (like the Governor) who will help lead, alongside Governor Snyder, in Michigan's continued economic success,” Parfet wrote in the email.
Funds for Sanders delegates
Michigan supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are planning a small festival, of sorts, the weekend of June 24 in the backwoods of southeast Shiawassee County to raise money for cash-strapped Sanders delegates to attend the Democratic National Convention in July.
The event, which will feature camping, campfires and live music, has been dubbed “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
Sanders supporters are planning to host seven bands June 25 in a woodsy area on Braden Road south of the village of Byron that’s being called “Bernie’s Forest,” according to an invitation on Sanders’ campaign website.
Democrats running for state and local offices who have adopted Sanders’ platform of rejecting any campaign contributions from corporations also will speak at the event.
“We’re inviting any Bernie-crats who are running for office and having them speak,” said Kelly Collison, a Bath Township resident who has been organizing the event.
The name is stolen from the 1989 cult classic “Weekend at Bernie’s,” though that movie was about the antics of two young employees who paraded around their dead boss’ corpse.
“We had a vote on it. It was democratic,” said Collison, who has been heavily involved in Sanders’ campaign.
Organizers are charging $27 for pre-sale tickets for the “Weekend at Bernie’s” event, with all proceeds going to help defray the costs of Sanders’ Michigan delegates to attend the expensive July 25-28 convention in Philadelphia.
Potty for bathroom bill
Former state Rep. Lorence Wenke, a gay rights advocate who left the Republican Party in 2014 during an unsuccessful run for state Senate, returned to the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday with a rent-a-potty and a message for his could-have-been colleague Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.
Wenke, who is from the Kalamazoo area, and his wife set up a portable latrine on the Capitol lawn to protest Casperson’s bill that would generally prohibit transgender students from using school bathrooms if members of the opposite biological sex were present.
“Please have your birth certificate ready for inspection,” Wenke wrote on a sign next to the toilet, questioning whether Casperson’s “potty police” were on duty.
“His bill is just a continuation of the Republican Party discrimination against our GLBT family members,” Wenke told The Detroit News, “and when I read about it, I just had to come up here and let him know a lot of us disagree with him.”
Contributors: Chad Livengood and Jonathan Oosting