ASK ELi: Who Funded Susan Woods' Campaign?

Friday, June 5, 2015, 12:11 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

Image of Susan Woods is courtesy City of East Lansing

A reader asks: Who funded Susan Woods’ campaign?

Some background: The reader who asked this question did so because he was frustrated with Susan Woods’ voting record on major redevelopment projects that have come before City Council since she was elected on November 4, 2013. A resident of the Bailey neighborhood and the Director of the East Lansing Film Festival, Woods has consistently voted in support of developers.

Woods has stated unequivocally that her votes have not been influenced by campaign contributions.

How I investigated the answer: I went to the Ingham County Clerk elections website and clicked on “campaign finance report search” and then searched under Woods’ name. Doing so gives you all the correspondence about her campaign. (You can do this with any candidate.) I focused on the campaign reports marked “received” October 23, 2013 and May 13, 2014.

What the campaign finance reports show: From the time Woods began accepting campaign contributions through November 25, 2013, her campaign indicates it collected almost $12,000 in contributions. The donations are shown below in table form.

As someone who has looked at a lot of campaign finance reports for East Lansing City Council candidates, I would say this one stands out as being unusual in several respects:

First, it is rare to see so many large donations and to see so many from landlords and/or developers. Note that the President and Vice President of DTN donated a total of $1,000 to Woods’ campaign. DTN has had active business before Council, including for the Gateway Project for which Woods voted to give about $1,900,000 in tax increment financing. (Read more.)

Readers wondering why so many landlords might cluster around a particular election cycle might want to read about the rental nonconforming negotiations.

It is also unusual to see such a small percentage of donations come from East Lansing residents with no apparent financial business before Council. Besides Woods herself, Laurer, Cafagna, and Petroni appear to be the only East Lansing resident-donors to Woods’ campaign without financial business before the city; their donations come to a total of $120 of almost $12,000 in donations. That means that only about 1% of all of the donations to Woods’ campaign appear to have come from East Lansing residents without apparent financial business before Council.

Finally, it is notable that almost all of the large donations arrived to Woods’ campaign on the day of the election (November 4, 2013). This meant that these donations would not appear in the public record until after the election. They would only become apparent after Woods took office.

Donor information : The campaign reports marked “received” October 23, 2013 and May 13, 2014 show the following, with amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar:

 

Person

Info

Date

Amount

Susan Woods

candidate

10/01/13

200

Marie Lauer

Butterfield Drive, EL

10/8/13

50

Susan Woods

candidate

10/8/13

2500 (Woods later reimbursed herself for this amount)

Margarette Cafagna

Sunset Lane, EL

10/30/13

20

David Corrin

Ann Arbor

10/30/13

50

Abraham Cuddeback

Blythefield, EL

10/30/13

75

Nancy Cuddeback

Virginia Ave., EL (wife of Jim Cuddeback, landlord)

10/30/13

150

Tama Hamilton-Wray

Daisy Lane, EL

10/30/13

50

Lucille Baker

Owner of Prime Housing Group (landlord)

11/4/13

500

Mary Barry

Portland, OR

11/4/13

100

Andrew Cockburn

Washington, DC

11/4/13

500

Leslie Cockburn

Washington, DC

11/4/13

500

Colin Cronin

Vice President for DTN Management (developer and landlord)

11/4/13

500

David Gutow

Owner of Gutow Management (landlord)

11/4/13

250

Brian Hagan

Property manager of Hagan Reality (landlord)

11/4/13

167

Jim Hagan

Owner, Hagan Reality (landlord)

11/4/13

500

Matt Hagan

Property manager of Hagan Reality (landlord)

11/4/13

167

David Hudgins

Owner of DJH Realty (landlord)

11/4/13

500

Jeffrey Hudgins

DJH Reality (landlord)

11/4/13

500

Melinda Irvine

(wife of Owen Irvine, landlord)

11/4/13

500

Owen Irvine

(landlord)

11/4/13

500

Thomas Kuschinski

President, DTN Management (landlord and developer)

11/4/13

500

Nancy Marr

President, Prime Housing Group (landlord)

11/4/13

500

Kristine Olson

Quality Manager of QCI

11/4/13

500

Kathy Petroni

Gives address as N224 North Business College, East Lansing

11/4/13

50

Rebecca Randall

Office Manager, Community Resource Management (landlord)

11/4/13

500

Suzanne Shaw

Menlo Park, CA

11/4/13

500

Joseph Tobin

San Francisco, CA

11/4/13

500

Ward Woods

New York, NY

11/4/13

500

Merten Barry

San Diego, CA

11/25/13

100

Stephen Katz

San Francisco, CA

11/25/13

50

 

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