Snyder: No PAC check for Courser or Gamrat

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Mackinac Island — Gov. Rick Snyder said Saturday he will use his new political action committee to help Republicans get elected to House seats, but that recently departed GOP Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat should not expect a campaign check from him.

“I’ll go out on a limb on this one – I think that’s a fairly safe assumption,” Snyder said in an interview with The Detroit News at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference.

Courser and Gamrat have filed to run in the Nov. 3 special Republican primaries for the House seats they vacated just a week ago when Courser resigned and Gamrat was expelled for misconduct in office. The charges related to covering up their extramarital affair and misusing taxpayer resources while pursuing other political positions.

Snyder said the two former representatives have a right to run for their seats, despite the controversy that has surrounded their conduct in office.

“That’s the way our laws are set up,” Snyder said. “So that’s their decision to run. Again, I believe the people will make the decision about the appropriateness of their candidacy.”

Snyder announced Saturday the creation of the Relentless Positive Action PAC to support state and federal candidates who back measures to reduce government debt, foster long-term economic development, reform public education and rebuild urban areas.

The Republican governor made it clear he intends to use the PAC to establish his governing legacy as a problem solver, starting with helping like-minded Republicans retain control of the Michigan House of Representatives in 2016.

“This isn’t about people just supporting me or me picking people, this is about creating a long-term structure of success based on the continuing reinvention of Michigan,” Snyder told The News. “I put it in the context of let’s create a framework to support good, solid people that believe in relentless positive action and a solid platform of issues that will make Michigan successful for generations to come.”

The Relentless Positive Action PAC will be a registered and regulated committee at both the federal and state levels, he said.

Snyder’s decision to get more politically active runs counter to his usual approach of steering clear of partisan politics.

The formation of Snyder’s PAC comes as he’s lobbying the Legislature hard for passage of an extra $1.2 billion annually for road funding and a potential $500 million rescue of debt-ridden Detroit Public Schools.

“The way I view it is I think I’ve acquired wisdom in the last four-plus years as governor and learned some lessons that, you know, again you always have ups and downs, things you did well, things you didn’t do as well and I think now is a good point to say ... we can move forward and make some good calls with this PAC,” Snyder said.

He said the state-regulated PAC will contribute donations to candidates and possibly make independent expenditures in general election races.

The governor did not rule out using the PAC to pick sides in a Republican primary.

“It really would depend on the particular race,” Snyder said.

It’s doubtful Relentless Positive Action PAC will contribute to a 2016 presidential candidate, Snyder said, but the group may play in “a congressional race of two.”

Snyder’s new PAC is his first public attempt to raise the profile of his agenda since he decided in May not to join the crowded GOP field for president.

The governor has postponed increased national travel promoting Michigan and his accomplishments until he secures a road funding deal with the Legislature and takes new steps to turn around the cash-strapped Detroit Public Schools.

The committee will be chaired by William Parfet, president of MPI Research in Mattawan and a close Snyder ally.

Kyle Robertson, who last year ran Snyder’s successful re-election campaign, will be executive director of Relentless Positive Action PAC, according to a news release.

Republican fundraiser Amanda Kornegay will serve as the PAC’s finance director, and Bettina Inclán will be the committee’s communications and outreach director.

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