Opinion: Out of state Prop 2 donors meddle with Michigan politics
There is a famous scene in the film "All the President’s Men", in which the informant, Deep Throat, tells Bob Woodward of The Washington Post to “follow the money.” In preparation for next Tuesday’s election, Michigan voters would be wise to heed this sage advice.
Michigan Proposal 2: Voters Not Politicians, a ballot initiative, seeks to amend the Michigan Constitution and establish an independent commission that will draw voting districts after each federal census. At first blush, this may sound like a sensible idea. Gerrymandering, where it exists, is unjust and ought to be eradicated. This attempted fix will create a Commission comprised of 13 members: four Republicans, four Democrats, and five Independents, who are selected from a large pool of applicants.
However, as is so often the case, the devil is in the details. Importantly, the Secretary of State, not a random selection, will ultimately choose the commissioners. Furthermore, the Commission will be given a large budget and the power to demand further funding. And finally, district maps must mandatorily represent communities of similar culture, economy, and history, which will inevitably lead to partisan favoritism.
In addition to this proposed solution being riddled with faults, the nature of the financial support behind it should give us great pause. Most of the money funding this initiative comes from two out-of-state sources: the Sixteen Thirty Fund, contributing $5.5 million, and the even shadier Action Now Initiative, contributing $5.1 million.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund is a 501(c)(4) based in Washington D.C. It recently funded Demand Justice, a social welfare organization that executed a massive campaign to oppose the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, airing 3,200 ads against Kavanaugh and receiving $2 million from George Soros to further their efforts. Is this the kind of organization we want meddling in Michigan affairs of such lasting importance?
The Action Now Initiative (ANI) is funded by Austin, Texas power-couple John and Laura Arnold. They are even more mysterious, but we do know that ANI has given millions to other similar ballot initiative campaigns nation-wide. The Arnolds are actively attempting to transfer power from elected officials to unelected bureaucrats across our great country. We in Michigan must stand up against this.
On November 6, will we let these puppet masters toy with the Michigan Constitution to their own political ends? Follow the money. It will show you who really is behind Proposal 2.
Robert Norton is general counsel for Hillsdale College but expresses these views in his personal capacity.