This afternoon, at the invitation of Michigan Republicans, the Koch brothers-funded corporatist front group Americans for Prosperity debuted a new attack ad aimed at Senate candidate Gary Peters. Portrayed as an anti-Affordable Care Act “issue ad”, it clearly targets only one candidate, Democrat Gary Peters and represents another example of the corrosive grip corporate “dark money” has on our state’s elections.
AFP aired their hit piece inside the state Capitol building in the Speaker’s Conference Room.
House Democrats were suitably outraged. House Minority Leader Tim Greimel issued the following statement:
The state Capitol is the people’s house, and it’s unconscionable that Speaker Bolger and House Republicans would allow it to be used in such a partisan fashion. I’m troubled that the Koch brothers were allowed to barge into our Capitol to showcase their dark money-fueled smear campaign to help a Republican candidate. People don’t want taxpayer-funded buildings used for campaign purposes, and billionaires shouldn’t be allowed to buy their way into our Capitol. Today’s special interest-stunt is a serious breach of the public’s trust, and Michiganders deserve an explanation – if not their money back.
I call on Michiganders to ask tough questions of their elected leaders who permit state building to be used for political campaigns. The people of Michigan deserve better than this.
It’s a shameless breach of ethics for House Speaker Jase Bolger and House Republicans to allow this to happen. It shows that they continue to be drunk with power and have no control over their desire to politicize every aspect of our state government. It’s bad enough that they take enormous amounts of campaign funds from these groups and benefit from their so-called “issue ads” that allow nearly unlimited corporate corruption of our elections. But now they’ve opened the front door to our state Capitol and invited them in to hold their propaganda release parties.
Shameful is almost to light a word.
Leader Greimel is absolutely correct: Michigan’s residents DO deserve better than this. And, after Election Day in November, we’ll make sure we HAVE better than this.
UPDATE: Apparently Speaker Bolger had a change of heart. Josh Pugh, Communications Director for the Michigan Democratic Party, released this statement this afternoon:
Michiganders today threw out the Koch Brothers’ special interest group, Americans for Prosperity from the Capitol in Lansing where the group had planned to launch their smear campaign to benefit Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land.
House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel led the charge, saying that the Koch Brothers group seriously breached public trust by trying to launch negative political attacks from the state capitol. This afternoon, minutes before the event, Republican House Speaker Bolger agreed with Greimel and the special interest group was removed.
Terri Land has yet to come clean about whether she or her campaign had secured a commitment from the Koch brothers and their special interest groups to help her buy Michigan’s U.S. Senate seat. If they did previously coordinate, the attack ads that launched today are illegal.
The last bit there relates to comments made by Land last September where she told a group of supporters that she and her husband had been in communications with various conservative Super PACs in apparent violation of federal election laws. MDP Chair Lon Johnson today called on Land to explain her connections to AFP saying, “Today, Michiganders made it clear that we reject the dark moneyed Koch Brothers special interest group here to help Terri Lynn Land buy our U.S. Senate seat for her anti-middle class agenda. Even Republican House Speaker Bolger recognized how low the Koch brothers and their dark money will stoop to try and take advantage of Michigan’s middle-class families, with an agenda that ends guaranteed benefits like Social Security and Medicare. It’s up to Land to come clean about her cooperation with these special interests and answer tough questions about how she sold out middle class families for special interest cash.”
The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Land contributed well over a half million dollars to her own campaign last quarter bringing her total personal funding to $1.6 million for a race that’s still 11 months away. She’s clearly willing to spend an enormous amount of her vast wealth in order to buy the seat and is seeking even more money to do so with from groups like the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.