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Campaign finance bill seeks to cut special interest group influence

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Bill would reduce what special interest groups can give to politicians

The amount of money candidates in Michigan can get from special interest groups could get cut in half. That’s if a proposed bill finds its way through the legislature.

Currently these groups are allowed to donate ten times the amount of money an individual can. If the bill sponsored by State Representative Martin Howrylak  is passed, the donation limit would be reduced to five times the amount individuals can donate.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a nonpartisan organization.     

“Representative Howrylak is basically saying I want to take on the structural inequity in this system,” he said. “It’s structurally flawed. It’s putting special interest groups above individuals.”

However, while Mauger thinks the spirit of the bill is a good thing, he said it could open up other issues.

“Problem is, if you just change the candidate contribution limits – what they can give to candidates directly, it’s going to drive all of that money that these special interests were giving directly to candidates into other areas of our campaign finance system that are harder to track.”

This bill is just one piece of larger campaign finance reform that needs to happen in Michigan in order to make sure voter voices are heard, Howrylak said.

“You need to have that multiplier reduced, get it closest to one time if you want people to be focused on individuals,” he said. “Especially people in the district that they come from, but definitely individuals and that’s really where we’re going with this.”

Howrylak said he wants to take the special interest spending limit back to where it was a few years ago, before a state law increased the spending limit.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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