Financial Disclosures Reveal Differences Among Candidates

Monday, October 26, 2015, 9:18 pm
By: 
Alice Dreger

Above: The six candidates running for East Lansing's City Council

Candidates for East Lansing’s City Council were required to file financial disclosures last Friday, which means that for the first time we are able to see into the campaign finances of candidates Nathan Triplett and Jermaine Ruffin. This also means we can now provide ELi readers with a careful comparison of these two campaigns against those of the four candidates who have for several weeks been voluntarily providing early disclosures to voters: Erik Altmann, Shanna Draheim, Mark Meadows, and Steve Ross. (For our previous look at those four campaigns, click here.)

So what have we learned with the new disclosures?

There are two particularly noticeable aspects of Triplett’s campaign for re-election in terms of how his finances compare to the others’. (1) The amount of donations he has raised—at over $52,000—amounts to more than the five other campaigns combined. (2) There are a relatively large number of donations from Political Action Committees (PACs), political campaigns, and businesspeople who have recently had or are expected to soon have commercial financial business before East Lansing’s City Council.

Triplett has the lowest percentage of dollars donated to his campaign by humans (as opposed to businesses) residing in East Lansing, at 45.7%. (As shown in the grid below, Altmann has the highest, at 86%.) But in absolute dollars, Tripltett easily raised the most financial support among East Lansing residents, at almost $24,000. The next highest, as shown below, is Draheim’s campaign at $9,410. Triplett also has the largest number of individual East Lansing donors, at 118.

Who are some of the individuals with commercial financial dealings before Council in the recent past, or likely in the near future, donating to Triplett’s campaign? Here’s a sampling:

  • Colin Cronin ($500), Vice President of DTN, and Iqbal Uppal ($500), Treasurer of DTN, a company recently awarded a $1.9 million tax increment financing (TIF) package under a 3-2 vote at Council, with Triplett as Mayor in favor, and also the City’s named “preferred developer” for the Park District;
  • Jim Croom ($1,000) and John Brown ($250), both vice presidents for Jackson National Life, a company awarded an approximately $1 million tax exemption by East Lansing’s Council, with Triplett as Mayor Pro Tem in favor;
  • David Krause ($400), developer recently awarded a $1.5 million tax incentive for a new downtown building in a 3-2 vote at Council, with Triplett as Mayor in favor;
  • Joseph Goodsir ($500, plus $500 from Goodsir’s wife) of CRMC, currently seeking a seven-figure TIF deal with the City for a new downtown development.

 

There are also a relatively high number of major East Lansing landlords who gave Triplett’s campaign between $250 and $1,000 each. (See below.)

Triplett also accepted funds from people who benefit financially from having the City’s business, for example: Tom Yeadon ($100), employed as City Attorney under a no-bid contract that has been called into question by some people who either want to open it to bids or hire an in-house attorney; Josh Clayton ($250), owner of H&H Mobil, the company ELPD preferentially calls for tows (there is no contract for this, but we have confirmed the preferential calling of H&H with police documentation); Richard Zecchino ($250), general counsel for Adams Outdoor Advertising, recently renewed a contract with the City of East Lansing for advertising.

Triplett’s campaign took in $4,950 from other campaigns and Political Action Committees (PACs), representing 9.5% of his campaign in-take. The next highest, Draheim’s campaign, is at a lower dollar number, at $3,100, but a higher percentage of her campaign total, at 19.8%. Ruffin’s campaign is the only one not to take donations from a political campaign or PAC. (See details below.)

Otherwise Ruffin’s campaign looks much more like the campaigns of Altmann, Draheim, Meadows, and Ross in terms of most numbers, but carries significantly more debt than the other campaigns. Ruffin owes $6,684.05 to Change Media Group. The only other campaign that carries debt is Altmann’s, which owes Altmann himself $2,000. (In such circumstances, after the election, the candidate often forgives the debt, but a candidate obviously can’t simply forgive a debt that is owed to a third-party.)

Here’s how the numbers shake out:

Candidate

Total dollars received (including in-kind, excluding from candidate)

Dollars donated by humans in East Lansing

% of campaign donations ($) from humans in EL

Number of donors/

number of human EL donors

Total dollars from political campaigns and PACs

% of campaign donations from political campaigns or PACs

Altmann

9,770

8,415

86.1%

97/85

100

1.0%

Draheim

15,665

9,410

60.1%

102/72

3,100

19.8%

Meadows

7,845

4,975

63.4%

86/61

500

6.4%

Ross

7,515

3,895

51.8%

89/45

225

2.6%

Ruffin

6,215

3,765

60.6%

55/24

0

0%

Triplett

52,331

23,921

45.7%

282/118

4,950

9.5%

 

What do we learn from looking at who has donated to whom in terms of campaign-to-campaign, or candidate-to-campaign?

  • Atlmann's campaign received $100 from Ross's campaign
  • Ross's campaign received $150 from Altmann and his campaign
  • Ruffin's campaign received $250 from Triplett
  • Triplett's campaign received $150 from Draheim and $250 from Ruffin

 

Here’s what we’ve ascertained in terms of donations from people with known commercial financial business recently before Council or possibly soon to have commercial financial business before Council, and donations from political campaigns and PACs:

 

Candidate

EL business connections to contributors

Donations taken from other political campaigns and PACs

Altmann

--$50 from Roy Saper, owner of Saper Galleries (downtown business)

--$50 from Jeffrey Hank, owner of Hank Law (has engaged in lawsuits against the city and worked on Charter changes, including trying to move to an in-house City attorney)

--$100 from Friends of Steve Ross

Draheim

--$500 from Christopher Abood, developer with past and likely future business before Council (“West Village” and The Spine Center)

--$100 from Musselman Reality

--$500 from Jim Croom of Jackson National, EL landlord, serves on East Lansing’s Downtown Development Authority and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority

--$500 from [Sam] Singh for Michigan

--$100 from Friends of Andy Schor

--$2500 from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee

Meadows

--$1,000 from Michele McIntyre, Farmers’ Insurance

--$500 Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 333 Political Action Committee

Ross

--$100 from Ody Norkin, owner of the Michigan Flyer bus, operates downtown

--$50 from Jeffrey Hank, owner of Hank Law (has engaged in lawsuits against the city and worked on Charter changes, including trying to move to an in-house City attorney)

--$100 from Friends of Andy Schor

--$75 Citizens to Elect Brian McGrain

--$50 from Friends of Erik Altmann

Ruffin

--$500 from Jim Croom of Jackson National, EL landlord, serves on East Lansing’s Downtown Development Authority and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority

--$415 donation from Jessie Stipcak, owner of Reno’s East

 

Triplett

--$350 from Ody Norkin, owner of the Michigan Flyer bus, operates downtown

--$100 from Thomas Yeadon, contracted as City Attorney

--$500 from Colin Cronin, VP of DTN Management, developer/landlord recently awarded $1.9 million TIF, additional business likely

--$500 from Iqbal Uppal, Treasurer for DTN, developer/landlord recently awarded $1.9 million TIF, additional business likely

--$250 from Josh Clayton, owner of H&H Mobil, tow service used preferentially by ELPD

--$250 from John Brown, VP for Jackson National Life, received approx. $1 million tax exemption from ELCC

--$1,000 from Jim Croom, VP for Jackson National Life, received approx. $1 million tax exemption from ELCC, EL landlord, serves on East Lansing’s Downtown Development Authority and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority

--$250 from Richard Zecchino, general counsel for Adams Outdoor Advertising, contracts with City

--$400 from David Krause, developer recently awarded $1.5 million TIF

--$1,000 from Mark Fisk, landlord in EL

--$250 from Brian Hagan, Hagan Realty, landlord and owner of commercial building at play in the Park District plan

--$250 from Matt Hagan, Hagan Realty, landlord and owner of commercial building at play in the Park District plan

--$250 from Kevin Hagan, Hagan Realty, landlord and owner of commercial building at play in the Park District plan

--$500 from Jeff Hudgins, Hudgins Realty, EL landlord

--$500 from Owen Irvine rental property owners in EL (also $500 from Irvine’s wife Melinda)

--$500 Joseph Goodsir, CRMC, seeking 7-figure TIF from City for new downtown project (also $500 from Goodsir’s wife Kerry)

--$250 from Dave Gutow, Gutow Management, EL landlord

--$1,000 from Christopher Abood, developer with past and likely future business before Council (“West Village” and The Spine Center)

$--$300 from Sam Clark, President of Clark Construction Company

--$50 from People for Deb Nolan

-- $200 from Whitmer Leadership Fund

--$100 from Friends of Andy Schor

--$100 from Citizens to Elect Brian McGrain

--$100 from Jeremy Moss for State Representative

--$100 from Friends of Rebecca Bahar-Cook

--$100 from Friends of James Dravenstatt Moceri

--$100 from Friends of Jon Hoadley

--$100 McAlvey Merchant PAC

--$250 from Singh for Michigan

--$1,000 from UAW Michigan V-PAC

--$1,000 from CAP PAC, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce

--$250 Michigan Laborers Political League

--$1500 from Inspire Michigan PAC

 

If you’d like to see scanned PDFs of the candidates’ filed disclosure forms, or a more easily searchable list of their donors as transcribed, choose from the following:

Erik Altmann: scanned PDF; donor list

Shanna Draheim: scanned PDF; donor list

Mark Meadows: scanned PDF; donor list

Steve Ross: scanned PDF; donor list

Jermaine Ruffin: scanned PDF; donor list

Nathan Triplett: scanned PDF; donor list

 

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