Lobbyist-to-be criticizes Michigan lobbying laws

Detroit News staff

After five years of being Gov. Rick Snyder’s gatekeeper, outgoing Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore sees flaws in Michigan’s law governing registered lobbyists.

Many people seeking to influence policymakers in Lansing in the same way a regulated full-time lobbyist does never register as a lobbyist with the Secretary of State’s Office, Muchmore says.

“I think that people don’t take the lobby law seriously,” Muchmore told The Detroit News. “They’ve structured it so that it’s very complicated for people to deal with it. I’ve always thought if you spent a dollar on people, you should report a dollar.”

Registered lobbyists are supposed to report expenses for meals, drinks, travel and lodging they supply to elected or appointed state officials.

State records, for example, show lobbyists from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, DTE Energy, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Government Consultant Services Inc. spent a combined $1,164.90 on food and drinks while meeting with Muchmore in the past five years.

Muchmore is returning to the Lansing lobby corps Feb. 1 when he becomes chairman of the government relations and regulatory affairs practice at the Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP law firm. Muchmore left his old lobbying firm, Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates, in 2002 to pursue other ventures.

As Snyder’s top adviser, Muchmore has been the man to see in Lansing since 2011. And at times, he’s seen the lines blurred.

“Sometimes people are up here in town and they’re not trying to influence, they’re just trying to make a name for themselves or put a show on,” Muchmore said.

Stupak endorses Lon Johnson

Former U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak this week endorsed former Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson of Kalkaska in the U.S. House contest to replace retiring Republican Dan Benishek in the 1st Congressional District.

Stupak, D-Menominee, represented the northern Michigan district for 18 years from 1993 through 2010 and now works as a lobbyist with the Washington firm of Venable LLP.

“I support Lon Johnson because he will work to create a U.P. and Northern Michigan where our families can stay and succeed,” Stupak said in a statement. “Lon is the best candidate to represent a district that I know well and hold close to my heart.”

Johnson’s campaign says Stupak is the 1,000th public supporter of the campaign, joining sitting members of the congressional delegation including Reps. John Conyers of Detroit, Sander Levin of Royal Oak, Dan Kildee of Flint Township, Debbie Dingell of Dearborn, Brenda Lawrence of Southfield and former Sen. Carl Levin of Detroit.

Benishek, the Upper Peninsula surgeon who initially planned to seek a fourth term in Congress, decided in September not to run for re-election. The district leans Republican.

In the Democratic primary, Johnson is facing Jerry Cannon, the former Kalkaska County sheriff who was Benishek's Democratic opponent in 2014.

State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, is the only Republican so far to declare a candidacy for Benishek’s seat.

Bolton to sing at Clinton event

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s supporters will be serenaded by singer Michael Bolton next Tuesday night at a Clinton campaign fundraiser in downtown Detroit.

The Clinton campaign sent a solicitation email Tuesday evening saying that the Grammy Award-winning singer will make a “special performance” during a fundraising event at an undisclosed downtown Detroit location.

Tickets start at $300, while a $1,000 contribution to Clinton’s White House war chest will get a “preferred viewing” seat. Supporters who make a $2,700 maximum individual contribution will get their photo taken with Clinton, according to the campaign.

The campaign email said attendees would be informed of the event’s location once they make a reservation. The event begins at 6:30 p.m., according to the Clinton campaign website.

The Clinton campaign hasn’t announced any other events while the former secretary of state is in Michigan on Tuesday.

Cher targets Snyder in tweets

As the story of Flint’s water crisis goes national, the news that city children and adults have been exposed to lead poisoning sent pop star Cher into a trending Twitter rage Tuesday night as she appeared to call for the execution of Gov. Rick Snyder.

At 10:11 p.m. Tuesday, the other half of Sonny & Cher posted a Tweet that said, “Gov. of Michigan is a murderer,” and accused Snyder of making the decision to “poison the water.” She ended the post with the hashtag “#JAILFORRICK.”

The 69-year-old pop culture diva amped up her original tweet about a half-hour later.

A post at 10:49 p.m. mentioned “incompetent politicians,” adding “THEY R CRIMNALS‼”

Cher ended the rant by mentioning Snyder again, right before adding the hashtag, “#FIRINGSQUADWORKSFORME.”

Neither Snyder nor anyone in his administration has been charged with a crime in the state’s handling of Flint’s switch from Detroit water to the corrosive Flint River water that caused the lead contamination.

But let’s just say, the governor’s office was not amused.

“It’s unfortunate that someone would use such rhetoric at a time when Gov. Snyder is working so closely with Flint’s leaders on coordinated efforts to protect the health and welfare of people in the city and across our state,” Snyder spokesman Dave Murray said in a Wednesday email.

Cher’s provocative statements were a hot topic Wednesday on social media. State Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, invoked Cher’s 1989 hit song “If I Could Turn Back Time” in calling for her to apologize.

“Cher should ‘turn back time,’ take that comment back and apologize,” Hune wrote on Facebook.

Contributors: Chad Livengood, Melissa Nann Burke and Brian O’Connor