Insider: Biden to raise campaign cash at Detroit fundraiser

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Vice President Joe Biden and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan talk to the media after eating dinner at Cafe Roma in Detroit on January 15, 2014

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden will raise money at a private event next week in Detroit, where he's expected to get a boost from local leaders like businessman Dennis Archer Jr. and Mayor Mike Duggan, a longtime political ally.

Biden’s campaign confirmed the former vice president will attend a July 24 fundraiser in Detroit but did not provide additional details. He is already expected in town that day for a presidential candidate forum hosted by the national NAACP.

Two sources familiar with the planning say Archer Jr. will host the fundraiser. Duggan and his political team are helping organize the event, according to the sources, where the mayor is expected to attend.

Archer Jr., CEO of Ignition Media Group and founding partner of Archer Corporate Services, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Duggan’s team did not respond to inquiries.

The mayor has not publicly endorsed in the presidential election. But he could help Biden connect with powerful local donors as the Delaware Democrat seeks to retain his early front-runner status in a crowded primary field. 

Biden raised more than $22 million nationally in the second quarter, the second-highest total among the 25 Democratic candidates. But his Michigan haul of around $68,000 was only the fifth-highest among the field.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana reported $199,185 in itemized contributions from Michigan residents during the period, the top figure among Democrats. Republican President Donald Trump reported $412,396 in itemized contributions from Michigan between April 1 and June 30.

Duggan has a long history with Biden and in 2017 said he'd be willing to chair his campaign if Biden ran for president in 2020, an offer that has not been taken up. 

Biden helped boost Duggan’s re-election bid two years ago, recording a robocall that went out to Detroit households the night before the primary.

The former vice president grew into a major advocate for Detroit during the Obama administration, paying visits to the city during its revitalization and helping it to land federal grants.

“He’s loved here. He’s just completely loved here,” Duggan said in a 2017 POLITICO podcast, noting the passing of Biden’s son Beau Biden from cancer in 2015. “If it had been at a different point, he would be president now.”

Archer Jr. is the son of former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer Jr.

Duggan coasted to re-election in 2017 but is now facing scrutiny over grants to the Make Your Date nonprofit and allegations that city employees were directed to delete related emails.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is reviewing June complaints tied to Make Your Date emails. Detroit Inspector General Ellen Ha is investigating whether Duggan and city officials potentially "abused their authority" by providing preferential treatment to the program.

Biden is one of at least 10 candidates expected at the NAACP’s presidential candidate forum next week. He’s also set to return to Detroit for the second presidential debates scheduled for July 30 and 31.

Energy advocate joins commission

Tremaine Phillips

A former state employee and sustainable energy advocate will join the Michigan Public Service Commission as the second appointee of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to the three-member panel.

Whitmer on Wednesday appointed Tremaine Phillips to the commission, the state’s regulatory panel for the energy and telecommunication industries. He will replace Norm Saari, an appointee of former Gov. Rick Snyder whose term ended July 2.

Phillips was assistant deputy director of the Michigan Department Energy, Labor and Economic Growth under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and an energy program associate with the Michigan Environmental Council. Currently, he is director for the Cincinnati 2030 District, but will move back to Michigan from Erlanger, Kentucky, for his new role.

“His diverse background will give him the knowledge and insight to be successful in his new role and is supported by a broad array of stakeholders from environmental groups to business organizations,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Phillips’ appointment, which is subject to advice and consent of the Senate, will begin Sept. 9 and ends July 2, 2025.

He will join fellow Whitmer appointee Daniel Scripps and Snyder appointee Sally Talberg, who is the commission’s chairwoman.

Young Jr. a marijuana consultant

Former Sen. Coleman Young II is trying his hand at consulting after more than a decade in the state Legislature.

The Coleman Young Consulting firm helps clients “navigate the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Michigan,” according to the Detroit Democrat’s website. The site highlights the consulting firm’s expertise with licensing, real estate development, start-ups and all avenues of the cannabis industry.

Coleman Young Jr. speaks.

Former lawmakers involved in crafting legislation to regulate marijuana in recent years have crossed over into a consulting role, including former Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, who spearheaded the 2016 Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act. 

In June, at the first public meeting of the Marijuana Regulatory Agency, Young told the state that he was interested in participating in the development of a social equity program that would benefit populations disproportionately affected by past marijuana enforcement.

“You have a lot of black people being pushed out of the system who also bore the brunt of the war on drugs,” Young told The Detroit News at the meeting. “For us now to start having people who are making millions in the business and they not be the people who suffered most of the brunt from the prohibition on marijuana, I just think that’s wrong fundamentally.”

Young said at the meeting that he didn’t plan to register as a lobbyist.