Abraham discloses first federal lobbying efforts

The Detroit News

Former U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Auburn Hills, has disclosed his first federal lobbying activity 16 years after leaving Congress, according to the website Legistorm.

Abraham, who served as energy secretary under President George W. Bush, joined the government relations team at the firm Blank Rome last year and recently disclosed that he has been lobbying on behalf of a Lebanese financial group.

Blank Rome is working on issues related to the “banking and finance industries” for the Cedrus Bank SAL in Beirut.

A ‘fake news’ honor

Michigan politics made Vice News’ list of “Ten Most Toxic Pieces of Fake News in 2017.”

Vice was referring to Kid Rock’s fake campaign for U.S. Senate in Michigan, which turned out to be a marketing ploy for his brand and newest album.

The website slammed the Romeo native, whose real name is Robert Richie, for not only creating a “dumb hoax” but for strenuously denying it was a hoax. The rocker called news reports doubting his political campaign “fake news” and sold merchandise and yard signs promoting “Kid Rock for U.S. Senate.”

“Talking s--- is fine — wonderful even — but the unspoken rule of good-time jokin’ around for fun and profit is this: When the jig is up, you admit it,” opined Vice’s Mike Pearl.

Hoaxes can be a legitimate (if lame) form of marketing, but pointing at your hoax and saying ‘this is not a hoax’ is the bad kind of lying.”

Lipton joins House race

Former Democratic state Rep. Ellen Lipton said she’s running for Congress for the seat held by retiring Democratic Rep. Sander Levin.

Lipton of Huntington Woods served three terms representing the 27th District in the Michigan House of Representatives in southeast Oakland County from 2009-14.

She ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 2014 to represent the 11th District, losing the primary election to state Sen. Vincent Gregory.

Lipton, 50, joins a growing Democratic field in the 9th Congressional District that includes Levin’s son, Andy Levin of Bloomfield Township; state Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren; and Martin Brook, a labor and employment law attorney from Bloomfield Township.

Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner and businessman Kevin Howley, both of Huntington Woods, might jump into the 2018 primary.

Republicans are also making a run at Levin’s seat with businesswoman Candius Stearns of Sterling Heights campaigning in the GOP primary election.

The 9th District includes southern Macomb and southeast Oakland counties.

In announcing her candidacy, Lipton said she’s “appalled” by President Donald Trump’s “corporate agenda.”

“I’ve taken on Betsy DeVos to fight for public education, and I’ll do it again,” Lipton said in a statement, referring to Trump’s education secretary who has pushed for charter schools in Michigan.

“With my background in education, science and the law, I’ll take on Donald Trump and the special interests who put the well-being of corporations before families trying to make ends meet.”

Before entering politics, Lipton worked as a patent attorney specializing in medicine and technology. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1992.

Ad touts American dream

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar is launching his second television ad on Thursday in which his youngest son, Samir, tells the story of his father achieving the American dream.

In the ad, Thanedar is described as coming to the U.S. with pocket change, raising his children as a single father and building a business that took on powerful banks and drug companies.

“Our father came to America with just $20 dollars and a dream,” Samir says in the ad. “After our mother died, he raised us as a single dad. A scientist, Shri Thanedar built small businesses that created jobs.

“He stood up to big banks and drug companies. He believes in single payer healthcare, outlawing for-profit charter schools and not taking a penny from corporate special interests,” he continued. “The most progressive candidate for Michigan governor: our father, Shri Thanedar.”

When asked to clarify in what ways Thanedar “stood up to big banks and drug companies,” the 62-year-old Ann Arbor businessman said he fought the Bank of America in court when it seized assets from his former Missouri company, Chemir Analytical Services, after the 2008-09 housing market collapse to make sure he could get a fair price to pay off his debt to the bank.

Thanedar said the bank at first offered him $6 million for his business assets, but he argued in court that the market value in the recession years made it worth $24 million. He said he won in court and the bank sold his business assets for that price.

“That paid off my debt completely,” Thanedar said. “So this was good for them that they got it recovered.”

Thanedar said he is also currently fighting business fraud allegations in federal court that he misrepresented another former company’s earnings and value when he sold it in 2016.

Attorneys for Thanedar last week filed a response to a complaint from a parent company for Avomeen Holdings in which they call the fraud and financial misrepresentation allegations false.

“I don’t let people bully me and I will stand up no matter who that is, even if that’s Bank of America,” Thanedar said.

How did he stand up to big pharma?

Another one of Thanedar’s former Missouri companies did laboratory testing to make sure pharmaceutical drugs were made up of what their packaging claimed, he says. His company helped startups develop drugs.

When he owned Avomeen, Thanedar says the company helped a mother determine that her child had been given an off brand medication “that had 10 times the active ingredient that it was supposed to have.”

Contributors: Melissa Nann Burke and Michael Gerstein