Look Who Is Funding East Lansing Council Candidates

Monday, October 28, 2019, 7:40 am
By: 
Chris Root

As the November 5 election for East Lansing City Council approaches, five of the six candidates have filed the required campaign finance reports with the Ingham County Clerk. Warren Stanfield is the only candidate who has not yet filed a Pre-Election General Report.

From these reports of both income and expenses of the campaigns so far, we can answer questions like these:

  • Which candidates have obtained donations from a lot of East Lansing residents?
  • Who has received donations from individuals who have recently had business before the City Council?
  • Who has received money from Political Action Committees (PACs)?
  • Which candidates are receiving financial support from current or former members of City Council?

It is not uncommon for some individual donors or PACs to wait until the end of the campaign to make a donation, so the reports that are available now probably are not exhaustive. But there is a lot of information here for voters to consider.

If you want to peruse the full reports, here are all those posted online by October 26. You can also search for additional filings on the Ingham County Clerk website by clicking on ”Search Campaign Finance Reports.”

Contact us if you found interesting information on the finance reports or evidence of expenditures (such as ads) that we have missed.

How much have the candidates raised and spent for their campaigns?

Here is what the candidates reported through October 23, shown in order of the amount of donations received, including both cash and in-kind donations.

Mark Meadows and Jessy Gregg have raised almost the same amount – about $15,000 – while Gregg spent almost $4,000 more than Meadows before the last two weeks of the race. Gregg has raised more from sources other than herself than has Meadows; Gregg’s donations include a $1,500 loan from herself, whereas Meadows’ donations include $3,634 in loans from himself.

So far, Gregg has outspent other candidates. Her total spending to date is $11,056, compared to the next closest candidate – Meadows, who has spent $7,210.

Erik Altmann and Lisa Babcock have each received donations totaling about $7,300. Babcock’s donations includes $1,021 that she paid and does not show as a loan. Altmann’s donations includes $1,020 that he has expended and marked as “Goods or Services Purchased by Candidate or Others- LOAN.” (Altmann’s total donations includes $1,000 reported on a “Late Contribution Form” because it was received after October 20.)

John Revitte has received less in total donations - $4,605 - than the other candidates who have submitted financial reports, and $2,000 of this income is from himself (not shown as loans). Revitte’s expenditures of about $2,700 are also less than the other candidates reporting income and expenses. Revitte has yard signs out and says that he has sent two letters out to those who requested absentee ballots. (ELi's government reporting staff has not received any mailings from his campaign.)

Warren Stanfield was granted a Reporting Waiver that he requested on the Statement of Organization form he submitted to the Ingham County Clerk in early August. This means that he did not expect to receive or spend more than $1,000 for the election. Therefore, we have no data about contributions that his candidate committee may have received.

We’ve heard of some yard signs for him around town, but we have not seen any mailings.

PACs that are supporting various candidates

The two candidates that have raised the most in donations have also received the most additional support from Political Action Committees (PACs) outside of their own campaign committees.

The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC sent out a full-color mailer in September supporting both Meadows and Gregg. (We reported on that here.) As in previous elections, this PAC has not filed a finance report for this election cycle.

Gregg’s candidacy is also receiving support from the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors PAC. This PAC has created an online ad for Gregg that we first noticed on October 26. The realtors PAC has filed financial reports in previous election cycles, but none are available yet for the November 2019 election cycle.

These PACs may not coordinate with the candidate committees.

Where are candidates’ donations coming from?

Returning to data that can be collected from the candidate finance reports, here is some breakdown of where candidates’ donations came from, displayed in order of total contributions, as in the first table.

This time, we have excluded donations and loans from the candidates themselves and also separated individual donations from PAC donations.

PACs are allowed to donate up to $10,500 to a candidate in an election cycle.

Meadows, the Council member who currently serves as mayor, has received donations from three PACs: Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 333 PAC, in Lansing ($5,000), Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters PAC, in Detroit ($1,000), and Realtors PAC of Michigan, in Lansing ($1,000).

After new members of the Council are sworn in, the five members elect a mayor and mayor pro tem from among themselves. If Meadows is re-elected, he may or may not be elected again as mayor. The same is true of Altmann, the current mayor pro tem who also is up for re-election in November.

Gregg has received a donation from one PAC: Realtors PAC Michigan ($1,000).

Altmann, Babcock, and Revitte have not received any PAC funds so far in this election so far as we can discern.

Separating donations made by PACs and those made by individuals shows that Gregg’s campaign has raised considerably more individual donations, both in terms of the total amount of $12,533 and the number of individual donors. The total amount of individual donations she has raised is almost twice that of Babcock and Altmann, and 2.75 times more than Meadows.

The number of individual donors to Gregg’s campaign also stands out: 137 unique donors compared to 56 for Altmann, 46 for Meadows, 44 for Babcock, and 18 for Revitte. (We counted each donor only once, even if he or she gave more than once to a campaign.)

Digging into the lists of individual donors to candidate campaigns

Meadows’ campaign has received donations of more than $150 from two individuals.

Kevin McKinney, of McKinney & Associates, a multi-client lobbying and consulting firm in Lansing, has donated $250 to Meadows’ campaign.

David Mittleman has given $1,000 to Meadows’ campaign. Mittleman is an attorney at Grewal Law PLLC, who in 2017 persuaded the City Council to sign on to a contingency lawsuit he’s brought forward on opioids.

Mittleman has the distinction of being the only individual who has contributed to four of the candidates in the City Council race: $1,000 each to Meadows and Altmann, and $500 each to Gregg and Babcock.

Looking at Gregg’s large individual donors, the biggest is Jason Schreiber, CEO of LightSpeed, an internet provider in East Lansing that has recently been sold to Metronet. (Disclosure: LightSpeed and Metronet have been corporate sponsors of ELi.)

Schreiber has donated $1,050 to Gregg’s campaign, which is the maximum donation an individual is allowed to make to a campaign during an election cycle. Schreiber also has given this maximum amount to Lisa Babcock’s campaign.

Gregg’s campaign has received donations of more than $150 from these individuals (in addition to Mittleman and Schreiber): Marguerita (Meg) Croft, owner of Woven Art at 325 Grove Street, where Gregg’s Seams store co-leases space ($525); Sam Singh, CEO of Public Policy Associates and former East Lansing Mayor and member of the Michigan House of Representatives ($500); George Brookover, East Lansing attorney who represents a number of developers and other clients before the East Lansing City Council ($500); Karen Jennings of East Lansing ($500).

Gregg has also received funds from Andy Draheim, Director of Finance and Development of the Michigan Environmental Council and spouse of Councilmember Shanna Draheim, who is not seeking reelection ($350); Diane Godderris, former mayor of East Lansing ($250); Linda Pivarnik of East Lansing ($250); William Willbrandt, owner of College Hunks Hauling Junk ($200); Richard Henderson of Minnesota ($200); Elizabeth Moore of East Lansing ($200); Andrea Besley, a project manager at Michigan State University ($200); and former East Lansing Councilmember Kathleen Boyle ($175).

Altmann’s campaign has received donations of more than $150 from these individuals (in addition to $1,000 from David Mittleman): Charles Overbey ($700); Pamela Meadows, wife of Mayor Mark Meadows ($500); James Croom, Vice Chair of the East Lansing Downtown Development Authority (DDA) ($300); Don Davis, former member of the East Lansing Planning Commission ($250); Lauren Harris, Professor at MSU ($250); Susan Haka, Professor at MSU ($250); Michael Marhanka of East Lansing ($250); Ruth Beier, current member of Council who is not up for re-election ($200.01); and Erick Williams, resident of East Lansing who works as an attorney for the State of Michigan ($200).

Babcock has received $1,050 from Jason Schreiber and $500 from David MIttleman, as mentioned above. Other individual donors of more than $150 to her campaign are: Paul E. Tower, East Lansing resident and attorney with Garan Lucow Miller in Grand Blanc ($1,050); former East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh ($500); and Anthony Spangler of Fort Worth, Texas ($250).

Revitte has received individual donations of more than $150 from: Michelle Kaminski, Professor at MSU ($500); Robert Banks, retired from MSU ($250); Eric Schertzing, East Lansing resident and Ingham County Treasurer ($250); and Anne Treadway Arouca, from Wilmette, Illinois ($200).

Facebook posting information about ads run by candidates 

Facebook is providing information about advertisements being run on its platform through political candidates’ Facebook pages. Four of the six people running for East Lansing Council seats have created such Facebook pages, all of which have run ads. 

As of October 31, Meadows has spent $1,649 on Facebook ads, Altmann has spent $358, and Gregg and Babcock have each spent “less than or equal to $100,” according to Facebook. These amounts can increase as ads continue to run until the election on November 5. Babcock’s ads are currently inactive.

You can check out the “Ad Library” of each of the Council candidates. These pages display the amount that has been spent on Facebook ads to date and images of all the ads. For each ad, you can see when it started running, how many times it has been displayed, and what age brackets of people have seen it.

Want to learn more? You can:

 

Update/Corrections: On October 31, we added the information about Facebook ads. On October 28, we made a correction because, when this article was originally published, it incorrectly identified the residency of David Mittleman. He lives in East Lansing and has voted here. This article was also amended to indicate that Revitte has sent out two mailing to absentee voters.

 

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