Council Member Didn’t Know Her Mailer Was Paid for by Developer

Thursday, October 30, 2014, 8:53 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

Council member Susan Woods says that when Mayor Nathan Triplett asked her to sign a letter going out to voters, she “had no knowledge that the mailer was financed by” a development corporation that stands to financially gain from the vote at issue. As ELi reported Tuesday, four of the five City Council members, including Triplett and Woods, have signed a letter paid for by DTN Management’s political organization urging voters to vote “yes” on the question of allowing Council to sell three City-owned parking lots. DTN is the corporation developing the project that will involve the purchase of the parking lots if the vote passes.

Woods says Triplett told her “that a letter was going out and I read the text, edited it and agreed to sign it with the other 3 council members.” But, she says, although Triplett “may have assumed that I knew how it was being financed,” she “had no knowledge that the mailer was financed by the EL Park District Committee.” East Lansing Park District Committee is the Ballot Question Committee (i.e., registered political organization) funded entirely by DTN.

Thus it appears Woods was unaware the letter she signed represented a political collaboration with the developer. (Click here to see a PDF of the mailer.)

I asked Triplett yesterday if he informed each Council member he called who was funding the printing and mailing of the letter. He has not answered the question.

Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris and Council member Kathy Boyle also signed the letter, but have not said whether they knew who was funding it when they signed it. In the letter, the group specifically writes to voters “as members of the East Lansing City Council,” and the letter is signed with their Council titles.

As reported earlier, the version of the letter that we believe has now been mailed out indicates it was funded by East Lansing Park District Committee, but does not reveal to voters that that is a political organization of DTN.

Goddeeris told me Tuesday that if voters wanted to know who was really behind the mailing in terms of funding, they could look it up at the County records of campaigns.

The fifth member of Council, Ruth Beier, says Triplett never called her to ask her if she wanted to see or sign the letter. The first she learned of it was from a voter who found a screenshot of the letter at Triplett’s Facebook page.

This article was updated at 12:45 pm on October 30 to include a link to the mailer.

Image of Susan Woods courtesy of City of East Lansing.

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