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"Stay at home" order slowed legislative Political Action Committee fundraising

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

TheCOVID-19pandemic has taken a toll on Political Action Committees relied on by many state lawmakers.

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports during the governor’s stay-at-home order, state House members' PACs saw a steep drop in campaign donations.

“During the stay-at-home order, those donations essentially cratered,” says Simon Schuster, MCFN executive director. “They were less than half of what they were in 2016 or 2012.”

Schuster says a big part of the fundraising culture in Lansing centers on meet-and-greet events where special interests often pay $100 to $500 a ticket to meet with individual lawmakers.

But during the stay-at-home order, those events were put on hold.

Schuster says from the end of March through the month of May, PACs generated about $276,000. By comparison, during the same period in 2016, PACs collected $765,000. 

But while PAC money stalled, Schuster says other donors stepped up.

“I think it’s important to note that during the stay-at-home order, individual contributions, especially from wealthy donors, didn’t really decline all that much.  They stayed mostly the same,” says Schuster.

Schuster says Political Action Committees controlled by legislative leaders have been able to direct money into lawmakers' campaign coffers. 

Since coronavirus restrictions loosened in June, Schuster says many lawmakers have worked to close their fundraising gap. 

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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