By ELIZABETH FERGUSON
Capital News Service
LANSING — A growing number of Michigan political campaigns are being influenced by independent groups raising and spending unlimited funding, with donors not always disclosed to the public. More money than ever was raised for the 2014 state elections, topping the previous record in 2006. The top 150 Political Action Committees raised a total of $68 million, over 30 percent more than the $51.9 million raised in the 2006 election cycle, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. The nonprofit, nonpartisan network researches money in Michigan politics and works to expose anonymous funding, also called “dark money.”
“Much of that money is dark money,” said Susan Smith of Ann Arbor, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “You don’t know who is providing the funding, so you don’t know who is influencing the vote.”
Groups funding advertisements related to campaigns can remain anonymous under a 2013 Michigan law that separates issue advertisements from campaign advertisements.