Political insider: Mich. delegates strike back at ‘dump Trump’ movement

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

A group of Michigan Republican delegates bound to support Donald Trump for president next month at the GOP’s national nomination convention are preaching party unity they say is lacking in the face of the latest “dump Trump” movement.

“Elected and volunteer ‘leaders’ within (the party) are publicly speaking and conspiring against our presumptive candidate,” 11 convention delegates and alternates said this week in an open letter to fellow Republicans. “Why? Their candidate lost.”

As The Detroit News reported Friday, Wendy Day of Howell and Barbara Bookout of Grand Rapids said they are part of a growing multi-state network of GOP delegates who are discussing changing the convention rules in an attempt to deny Trump the nomination.

But doing so “would disenfranchise every American citizen who expressed their views by voting through the process,” said the Trump delegates, including conservative activist MeShawn Maddock of Milford and former lieutenant governor candidate Wes Nakagiri of Hartland.

“We implore all Michigan Delegates to the RNC Convention to get behind our presumptive nominee,” they wrote. “You are welcome with no judgment or finger-pointing, we actually do need to work together to beat a career politician and career liar who is running on the Democrat side.”

Bush donors receive refunds


Michigan donors to a political action committee that backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president received a collective $186,000 refund in May, recouping some of the money they contributed during his failed bid for the Republican nomination.

Richard DeVos got a nearly $30,000 refund from Right to Rise USA last month after contributing $250,000 in January, according to a campaign finance report filed Monday. Three other members of the powerful west Michigan family each got $3,000 back after donating $25,000 apiece.

Farmington Hills real estate developer Harold Beznos received a nearly $12,000 refund from the Super PAC after contributing $100,500 in February and March.

Right to Rise Treasurer Charlie Spies said he sent out more than 3,200 refund checks in May.

“It’s not standard practice; it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a Super PAC doing a massive refund,” said Spies, a Michigan native and attorney who works for Clark Hill PLC in Washington, D.C.

Bush formally entered the presidential race in June 2015 with supporters touting unprecedented backing from Right to Rise, which would eventually raise more than $118 million before he dropped out in February.

Super political action committees are not obligated to refund donors, but Right to Rise officials said they would do so after calculating outstanding costs. Federal records show the committee gave out $13.7 million in refunds last month and has roughly $3 million left in the bank.

“These donors gave money to help elect Jeb Bush, and once Gov. Bush dropped out, we wanted them to get their money back and be able to support other candidates,” he said. “…We have gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback from them.”

As The Detroit News previously reported, Michigan donors spent roughly $5.2 million on Super PACs backing Republican candidates who lost primary races to Trump. Richard DeVos also donated to Super PACs supporting Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina for president.

Rivard to work for Clinton


Mitchell Rivard, spokesman and deputy chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, is moving back to Detroit to serve as the Michigan communications director for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Kildee’s office on Tuesday announced a leave of absence for Rivard, effective July 1, as Clinton’s general election campaign team begins to take shape in Michigan.

“Mitchell is a media savvy and talented communicator who has been a close adviser and invaluable part of my team,” Kildee, D-Flint Township, said in a statement.

“Born in Bay City, I know Mitchell has always had a deep commitment to his job because of his Michigan connections, and I know that his strong passion will continue to drive his work in this new role. I wish him all the best in the coming months ahead and look forward to welcoming him back to my congressional office later this year.”

Rivard previously worked for former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the U.S. Department of Justice. The Michigan State graduate was elected in February president of the LGBT Congressional Staff Association.

Whitmer blasts DPS deal

Potential 2018 gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday blasted Gov. Rick Snyder and the $617 million Detroit Public Schools bailout he signed into law, arguing it provides insufficient money to rebuild the district and lacks teeth to fend off poor-quality charter schools.

“Such a diluted solution should not have surprised anyone who follows Lansing politics,” the former state Senate Democratic leader from East Lansing wrote on Facebook. “Time and again, our governor has seen his words overshadowed by his unwillingness to either recognize or stand up to the unrelenting negative tantrums of the cynics in his party who bully him into submission.”

Snyder has said the rescue package will alleviate operational debt, freeing up cash for the classroom, while restoring power to an elected school board by January. While the approved legislation did not include everything he wanted, he said it “promises a brighter future for all of Detroit’s children.”

Whitmer’s comments came the same day she was sworn in as Ingham County Prosecutor, an interim position she accepted after longtime prosecutor Stuart Dunnings was charged with multiple prostitution-related crimes.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint Township and Whitmer have both said they are considering running for governor

Contributor: Jonathan Oosting