Trump’s Michigan campaign discovers renegade offices

Just how many Donald Trump offices are there in Michigan? Even the state director for his Republican presidential campaign isn’t sure.

Scott Hagerstrom said Wednesday the Trump campaign, state party and Republican National Committee jointly operate more than 30 offices in Michigan. But the unofficial count is a bit fuzzy.

“Amazingly our volunteers and activists are so pro-active there are an unknown number of volunteer offices around the state,” Hagerstrom said. “Every week we hear about a couple more.”

The campaign recently learned on Reddit, a popular social sharing website, that someone in Charlotte had opened a volunteer office, Hagerstrom said during a “Capitol Morning Brew” event in Lansing.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon, meanwhile, said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign is working very closely with the state party and other candidates on the ticket.

Combined, they operate 35 offices across Michigan, according to the Clinton campaign.

“Compared to other years, I think it’s probably the most efficient and smooth coordinated campaign we’ve ever had.”

Macomb official fined

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco has been fined $125 for violating the county’s ethics ordinance by filming a television campaign ad in a county facility.

The county’s Ethics Board voted Wednesday to impose the fine on Marrocco, a Democrat, after Leon Drolet of Macomb Township filed a complaint about the commercial showing the candidate at the Chapaton Pump Station.

The commercial was released for broadcast Sept. 13, according to Marrocco’s campaign.

The ethics ordinance prohibits county employees from using county buildings or property for campaign purposes.

“While I strongly disagree with this decision, I’ll abide by the ruling,” Marrocco said in a statement.

Marrocco has campaigned heavily for re-election in a race against U.S. Rep. Candice Miller — the Harrison Township Republican who is perhaps his toughest competitor yet.

Chief Deputy County Executive Mark Deldin said this is the first time since the ordinance was created around 2011 that someone has been fined for violating it.

Miller’s campaign said Wednesday: “Once again Anthony Marrocco sees no separation between his personal business and political interests and his duties on behalf of the people of Macomb County.”

Schauer serves as adviser

Former Michigan Congressman Mark Schauer is serving as a senior adviser for a new Democratic group working to position the party for greater influence when legislative and congressional maps are redrawn following the 2020 census.

He has some notable company: Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been tapped to chair the new National Democratic Redistricting Committee, and it will reportedly be a top priority for President Barack Obama when he leaves office on Jan. 20.

Their participation “shows the level of commitment and interest in this work,” said Schauer, who ran for governor in 2014 but lost to incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder. “I’ll be providing not just advice, but support and leadership in putting the national strategy together, which is really comprised of a series of state-specific strategies to increase democratic power in the redistricting process.”

Democrats have long pointed to district boundaries as a factor in their current disadvantage in state Legislatures and congress. Redistricting happens every decade, and in most states, the process is led by whichever party controls state government at that time.

The Republican wave of 2010 was a “wipeout election” for Democrats, said Schauer, who lost his congressional seat that year. In Michigan, Republicans wrote the most recent maps, which ended up carving Schauer out of the district he had represented.

Among other things, the new group will work to build state-level Democratic majorities in 2018 and 2020. Republicans ran their own “Red State” redistricting project in the run-up to 2010.

Schauer said the umbrella organization will help coordinate Democratic groups and allies already working on redistricting and allow them to “speak with one voice” to donors.

He called Michigan “kind of a poster-child for Republican gerrymandering,” arguing the GOP’s current 9-5 member advantage in the U.S. House does not align with the statewide electorate.

Republicans currently enjoy a 63-46 advantage in the Michigan House, but all 110 seats are up for election this fall. Democrats are hoping to make gains this year and in future cycles.

“I don’t think I’m revealing any trade secrets to say the Michigan House is a top priority,” Schauer said.

Big names behind PACs

The two super political action committees that targeted state Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba in the final weeks of the Republican primary for the congressional seat in northern Michigan were backed by big names in Michigan politics, according to an analysis by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Casperson came in second in a three-way contest for the Republican nomination. Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman of Watersmeet won with 38.6 percent. Former state Sen. Jason Allen of Traverse City came in third.

Concerned Taxpayers for America spent $197,682 on TV and digital ads, mostly against Casperson. The group was funded in part by members of the DeVos family in Grand Rapids. Five members of the DeVos family contributed $125,000 to the super PAC on July 26 — a week before the 1st District congressional primary.

Other contributors included the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., EQCO Partners LLC, Michigan Energy First, the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, and the Fund for American Opportunity Education.

U.S. News Network, which spent $29,000 against Casperson just before the primary, was largely funded by John Yob, a Republican consultant now working for the Bergman campaign. Yob gave $25,000 to the super PAC on July 29, according to FEC reports.

A third super PAC, Defending Main Street, spent $202,000 in support of Casperson’s candidacy and against Allen, according to FEC filings. Donors to that group included the Air Line Pilots Association, the International Union of Painters and All XX, and the group Policy over Party of Bloomfield Hills.

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting and Melissa Nann Burke