Moroun firm pours $250k into Schuette super PAC
Lansing — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette would like to see both a public bridge and a private bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, a spokesman for his gubernatorial campaign said Friday.
Schuette’s support for the Gordie Howe International Bridge, a public-private span that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder helped break ground on this week, has been an open question.
State records show that a company linked to the Moroun family, which owns the Ambassador Bridge and has fought attempts to build a public competitor, donated $250,000 in December to a super political action committee supporting Schuette, a Midland Republican.
Senior campaign strategist John Sellek told The Detroit News that increasing bridges and transportation options in Detroit would mean more commerce and more economic growth, which would be a goal of Schuette’s if elected governor.
He did not specifically name the planned Gordie Howe crossing but said “Bill is in favor of growth, for Michigan and Detroit.”
Schuette "favors a public bridge and a private one. New York has many bridges. Even Midland has two bridges across the Tittabawassee River," Sellek said.
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, also running for governor, is a strong proponent of the Gordie Howe bridge project that will be financed by Canada and connect Detroit to Windsor.
The Moroun family’s six-figure contribution to the Schuette super PAC was funneled through Oakland Financial Corporation of Sterling Heights. A 2014 document from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission listed Matthew Moroun as chairman and sole shareholder of the company.
The Detroit Free Press first reported the link.
The Morouns have spent millions of dollars fighting the Gordie Howe bridge while pursuing plans to build a twin of its privately owned span. The Detroit International Bridge Co. spent more than $33 million on a failed 2012 ballot proposal that would have required a public vote on any international bridge or tunnel project.
The family has also bankrolled legal challenges and last month urged Republican President Donald Trump to revoke a key governmental permit allowing construction. It is also running Facebook ads urging readers to tell Trump that "Michigan wants the American bridge," a reference to its own desire to twin the Ambassador.
The Canadian government granted the Morouns a permit in 2017, but the permit would require the family to dismantle the Ambassador within five years of completing a new span. Gordie Howe supporters say a second bridge would provide an important redundancy at a critical trade juncture.
The Moroun family has given to state, federal and local political candidates over the years. The Morouns were “the largest donors by far” in 2017 Detroit City Council races, said Craig Mauger, a watchdog with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
“People should always be watchful of who is funding different political efforts,” he said, noting that super PACs are one of many vehicles donors can use to influence elections. “People just need to be mindful that donors are writing checks to people that have a say over policy.”
Schuette and Calley both have dedicated super PACs supporting them this cycle, a new development in Michigan elections following a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting political corporate and union spending as free speech and a 2017 state law that established new rules.
While candidate committees are limited to $6,800 contributions and cannot accept corporate cash, super PACs can field unlimited individual or corporate contributions.
In the latest reporting period that ran through April 20, the pro-Schuette super PAC also received $150,000 from the Penske Corp. of Bloomfield Hills, a $125,000 contribution for Ciena Healthcare President Mohammad Qazi and three other $100,000 contributions.
Calley’s super PAC reported $250,000 contributions from Terry Adderley, chairman of Kelly Services temporary worker firm in Bloomfield Hills, and William Parfet, a longtime Snyder donor and former chairman of MPI Research in Mattawan.
The super PACs are expected to file new donor disclosure reports next week.