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State auditor general examining Pure Michigan campaign

The "Pure Michigan" campaign highlights beautiful and memorable places and experiences in Michigan.
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The multi-million dollar Pure Michigan campaign is getting an evaluation. The state auditor general started a review this week.

Representatives Steven Johnson, R-Wayland and Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, asked for the audit. Johnson said he wants to make sure the campaign is a good deal for taxpayers.

“I like the ads, too. I think they’re, you know, they’re nice to see on TV. They make me feel good about Michigan,” he said. “But it’s millions of dollars that we’re spending and that money doesn’t come from nowhere. That comes from the hardworking taxpayers of Michigan.”

The details of a potential audit have yet to be released by the auditor general. But Michelle Grinnell is with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. It oversees Pure Michigan. She said the review is limited to Pure Michigan’s annual return on investment report.


“We stand by that study,” said Grinnell. “However, we are, again, happy to have the Office of the Auditor General review that and will work with them on that process.”


The state has long claimed the Pure Michigan campaign brings business and tourists to Michigan. A recent study commissioned by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation say the state gets back eight dollars in tax revenue for every dollar spent.

Some organizations have disagreed with the findings.

The conservative think tank, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, released a report in 2016. It said that the state gets two cents back for every dollar invested. 

“We just want to make sure, first and foremost, that taxpayer money is being spent wisely,” said Johnson. “And we’ve seen several reports showing that the Pure Michigan campaign was not effective.”

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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