Democrats attack Rep. Bishop on union wage votes

Gary Heinlein
The Detroit News

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running drive-time radio ads this week linking U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop’s votes on prevailing wage bill provisions with campaign donations from the powerful DeVos family of Grand Rapids.

The ads, on the air in Metro Detroit and Lansing, charge that the Rochester Republican “wants to gut prevailing wage laws that make sure construction workers get paid a fair local wage.”

Prevailing wage laws, under attack here and among Republicans in Congress, essentially require union-scale wages on publicly financed construction projects such as school buildings and highway repairs. Critics argue that such laws inflate costs for taxpayers and result in less bang for the buck on projects.

The ads, part of a 2016 election battle between incumbent Bishop and Democratic challenger Melissa Gilbert, of Livingston County in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, cite Bishop votes against prevailing wage enforcement on two bills involving Veterans Administration construction projects.

It’s important to Michigan veterans because they hold “a higher percentage of construction jobs,” according to the radio text, which also mentions “billionaires” who are the chief financial backers of petitions to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law.

“Michigan vets want politicians to stand up for their wages, but Mike Bishop would rather take the same side as the billionaires backing the anti-prevailing wage petition – and his campaign,” it says.

The latter is a reference to the DeVos family, whose members have donated more than $23,000 to Bishop’s congressional campaign fund.

The Bishop campaign said the ad buy, while modest in scope, falsely implies the congressman is unfriendly toward veterans. The congressman has supported bills bolstering efforts to prevent suicides among veterans, transition them to civilian life and make it easier for them to access mental health care, said spokesman Stu Sandler.

“Democrats are ignoring the fact that their candidate owes $470,000 in back taxes to the federal government,” Sandler said. “This ad relies on false information and actually Mike Bishop is supporting legislation to help our veterans.”

Gilbert, a TV and movie actress, has been under attack from Republicans over her tax troubles.