Unknown where some political ad funds come from

Not shown -- No. 132: Ronda Stryker, worth $4.8 billion. No. 248: John Brown, worth $3.1 billion. No. 359: William Young, worth $2.2 billion.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — $40 million: That’s the price tag Rich Robinson puts on the races for governor and U.S. Senate in Michigan.

Robinson is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a group that tracks money in politics. He said the way funds come into a campaign has changed over the years.

“One of the undeniable trends is kind of the nationalization of these campaigns,” he explained.

Increasingly, the groups raising money and placing ads are further and further away from the candidates or party committees. Outside sources with their own agenda are supporting candidates — and it’s unclear where their money is coming from.

Robinson said the committees funding political ads that aren’t affiliated with a campaign don’t have to tell anybody where their money comes from.

“The committees are relatively narrow-focused sometimes,” Robinson said. “Their financial base may be very narrow. In a lot of cases, the nonprofits, we have no idea whose money it is, really.”

“The problem from the broad publics perspective is you might be wondering what considerations are given for the contributions, campaign support and all the rest. If you don’t know whose money it was, how do you asses what consideration were ever given?” he continued.

There are many schools of thought when it comes to  money in politics.

Robinson wonders about “consideration.” Some donors would say they are simply supporting candidates who they believe have a like-minded world view. Others think it may be more of a hybrid.

But regardless of the origin of the funds, it’s a lot of money and voters will see the impact between now and the general election on Nov. 4.

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