ASK ELi: Candidates' Campaign Financing

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Friday, August 21, 2015, 12:02 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

When we conducted our first ELi reader survey, those polled indicated high interest in this reader-suggested topic:

“Your series on campaign contributions was especially eye-opening. I would be interested in finding out more about where the people currently running for council are raising their money from.”

This week I checked again at the Ingham County elections site and there is not yet any information about donors to campaigns of the six people running. Such a filing has not yet been required.

ELi will continue to check back on campaign filings, but it’s important for voters to keep in mind that a candidate can take a campaign contribution from an individual without having to disclose it until after the election has already occurred.

Among seated Councilmembers, the clearest example of contributions not made visible until after election comes from the campaign of Councilmember Susan Woods. Her filings show that she accepted $8,734 in total from 21 contributions on the day she was elected (November 4, 2013). Since the disclosure filing for these contributions could not happen until after the election, it would have been impossible for a voter to take these contributions into account when going to the polls.

Last year, East Lansing’s City Council debated whether to require active disclosure during Council meetings if a seated Councilmember had received contributions from someone with business at the meeting. They ultimately decided against it, and instead asked City staff to add a link to the Ingham County elections site at the City Council’s official webpage.

 

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