Land’s dad gives $500K to attack Peters

Gary Heinlein
The Detroit News

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land’s father has donated a half-million dollars to a conservative group that has run ads attacking Democratic opponent Gary Peters — part of more than $2.2 million in donations by Land allies.

Western Michigan real estate businessman Paul Land donated $500,000 in September to the Ending Spending Action Fund, according to federal election records. The fund’s leader told The Detroit News the group planned at least $1 million in independent ads favoring Land following about $1 million in prior ad purchases after the National Republican Senate Committee earlier this month canceled $830,000 in television ad buys through Election Day.

The GOP committee withdrew the money to focus its spending on other hotly contested races in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate, which has a Democratic majority.

The conservative Ending Spending Action Fund has run a television ad that highlights two convicted felons who contributed money to the congressional campaigns of the Bloomfield Township Democrat. Federal records show donations from one individual were returned in August 2012 after he was arrested, and Peters campaign spokeswoman Haley Morris said several donations over the years from the other felon subsequently were returned or donated to charity.

The commercial also notes Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s former chief of staff and deputy mayor, Kandia Milton, worked as a congressional aide for Peters until late last year after serving 14 months in prison.

Milton pleaded guilty in 2010 to taking a $20,000 bribe to help facilitate the 2007 approval of the $3.5 million sale of the city’s Camp Brighton by Detroit’s City Council. Peters has defended the move as a Christian gesture to give someone a second chance after he served his time in prison.

“New disclosures today reveal that Terri Lynn Land’s father and owner of Land & Co. funneled $500,000 of their family’s fortune to Ending Spending, a Super PAC that has spent millions in false, negative attacks ads boosting Land’s candidacy,” said Morris.

"It should not come as a surprise that Terri's family supports her,” said Land campaign spokeswoman Heather Swift, noting that an independent super political committee supported by California hedge fund billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer has funded ads against Land.

Swift said Peters visited “a swanky Lake Tahoe resort” owned by Steyer before the PAC Steyer supports began spending in Michigan. “Peters needs to tell Michigan voters what he promised Tom Steyer,” she said.

Other donations to the Ending Spending Action Fund from west Michigan supporters of Land in the quarter included $270,000 from members of Grand Rapids’ DeVos family, $200,000 from West Olive businessman Michael Jendernoa, $100,000 from Autocam Medical President-CEO John C. Kennedy III of Kentwood and $60,000 from two executives of Holland’s Haworth Inc., according to federal records.

McKinley Associates Inc. of Ann Arbor, the real estate development firm founded by former state GOP Chairman Ronald Weiser, gave $1.1 million to the fund.

The revelations came as the Land campaign said Tuesday it raised $2.13 million in political contributions for the three-month quarter ending Sept. 30, slightly less than Peters’ campaign reported last week for the same period.

Peters reported campaign contributions totaling $2.3 million for the third quarter — the best fundraising quarter of his campaign, Morris said.

Land, a former secretary of state who lives in Byron Center, now has taken in more than $10.8 million since launching her campaign to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in June 2013, according to Swift. It includes $2.9 million of her own money. Peters’ campaign has raised more than $9 million.

“Once again, Terri has proven that Michigan families and workers support her plan to put Michigan first by balancing the budget, fixing our roads, combating ISIS and securing our borders,” Swift said.

She charged that Peters “is void of solutions to combat ISIS, void of solutions for creating good-paying jobs and void of solutions for securing the borders.”

Swift argued her candidate actually surpassed the Peters campaign’s third-quarter fundraising because he took in $2.09 million in the official reporting period July 17-Sept. 30. But Morris countered that a true financial third quarter runs from July 1 through Sept. 30, in which case the congressman raised $200,000 more to make the $2.3 million the campaign reported last week.