Public Policy
  Analysis, Opinion & Ideas from Steve Harry

Directory

About/Contact

80% of contributions to police union PAC goes to telemarketer

November 26, 2014

 

Corporations, unions and special interest groups set up political action committees - PACs - to collect money so they can distribute it to politicians. This is how they buy influence. It enables them to speak louder than the ordinary citizen.

 

At $211,775, the Police Officers Association of MI (POAM) Legislative Fund is 64th on the list of the 150 state PACs who raised the most money in the period 1/1/2013-10/20/2014.

 

On POAM's website, they are celebrating their latest legislative victory. On October 15, Governor Snyder signed HB 5097 into law (Public Act 322). It exempts public safety workers from a law prohibiting wage increases while negotiations continue after a collective bargaining agreement has expired.

 

October 15, 2014 - Governor Snyder signs HB 5097 into law (Public Act 322). Behind him left to right: POAM executive board member Dan Kuhn, bill sponsor Rep. John Walsh, POAM lobbyist Tim Ward, POAM executive board member/Deputy Sheriffs Association president Dave La Montaine, POAM president Jim Tignanelli, and POAM legislative director Kenneth E. Grabowski.

From the POAM website:

The Governor made a commitment to our membership that he would fix this mistake in law when he addressed the POAM convention in 2012. He and his staff worked very hard in overcoming opposition to get this needed correction. He has kept his word to law enforcement. This would not have possible without the efforts of bill sponsor Representative John Walsh (Livonia) guiding it through the House and Senator Pat Colbeck (Canton Twp.) spearheading it in the Senate. And a big congratulations goes to our POAM members who followed up on calls and contacts to their legislators.

In the period 1/1/2013-10/20/2014, POAM contributed $35,025 to political campaigns. Do you suppose that had anything to do with getting the legislature and governor to fix this "mistake?"

 

Ah, but this is the way our imperfect democracy works.

 

There is something especially sleazy about POAM, however.

 

Just recently, I did an analysis of the Auto Dealers of Michigan PAC - where it gets its money and who it goes to. It gets its money from auto dealers across Michigan. Back in 2007, I looked at Blue Cross Blue Shield. The BCBS PAC gets its money from "voluntary" bi-weekly deductions from the paychecks of its employees. In 2008, I looked at the Beer and Wine Wholesalers. They get their money from beer and wine wholesalers. So you'd expect the Police Officers Assoc. of MI PAC to be funded by contributions from police officers.

 

That's not the case. POAM gets its money from us.

 

POAM contracts with a telemarketer who makes calls to people all over Michigan and asks them to contribute. 4,866 individual contributions were made in the period from 10/21/2013 to 10/20/2014. Contributions vary from $2 to $200, but these were the most common amounts:

 

Amount

Number

Percent

 
 

$15

1780

36.6%

 
 

$20

1137

23.4%

 
 

$25

580

11.9%

 
 

$35

780

16.0%

 

 

A total of $115,179 was collected. $91,025.50 of that - 79.0% - went to the telemarketer, Midwest Publishing Inc.

 

Many of the people who are persuaded to make these contributions are elderly and/or poor.

 

So far, I haven't been able to find anyone who remembers what is said in these calls from the telemarketer, but there was a story about it in the newsweekly Northern Express in Traverse City in 2004 by reporter Eartha Melzer. She said she received "a very official sounding call from the Police Officers Association of Michigan." The caller said "In difficult times such as these, do you think it is important to support the police?"

This guy wanted to sign me up to express my support for the police through purchase of a gold or silver decal for $35 or $25. Once I receive my sticker in the mail, he said, I should immediately place it on the rear window of my car or the front door of my home . . . He intimated that it was somehow in my interest to make public my support for the police.

I did obtain a solicitation letter a contributor received recently. "Without sponsors like yourself," it says, "POAM would not be able to advance our causes on behalf of over 10,000 members across Michigan." POAM spent $35,000 advancing its causes in 2014. They could have raised that amount by asking their 10,000 members to each contribute $3.50.

 

They are at least honest about where the money goes - 20% of it, anyway: "The money we raise will be used to contribute to political candidates who are committed to advancing pro-police causes."

 

I also obtained an invoice letter, apparently sent after someone has agreed to contribute. There is a P.S. at the bottom that says "If you could add just $2.00 to your promised pledge today, it would be very much appreciated."

 

Most of POAM's pro-police causes involve higher compensation for police, which gets Michigan taxpayers nothing but higher taxes. They have a lot of nerve asking us to come up with the money for their contributions to politicians.

 

With a name like Midwest Publishing Inc, we would hope that the $168,867 the telemarketer was paid since January 1, 2013 was used to pay Michigan workers. That's not the case. Midwest Publishing Inc's address is 10844 N. 23rd Avenue in Phoenix, AZ. They've been providing this service to POAM for at least 10 years. The following figures were compiled from campaign finance reports downloaded from the Secretary of State's website:

 

Statement

Year*

Total

Contrib

Amount

Number of

Contribs

Average

Contrib

Amount

Contribs to

Politicians**

Paid to

Telemarketer

Other

Expenditures

Total

 Expenditures

Telemarker

Payment as

% of Contribs

2005

121,493.00

4559

26.6

15,242.37

***165,247.24

25.98

180,515.59

136.0%

2006

154,625.00

5752

26.9

38,669.54

143,310.03

954.38

182,933.95

92.7%

2007

118,961.00

4376

27.2

23,297.57

100,155.70

312.26

123,765.53

84.2%

2008

56,028.00

2013

27.8

14,630.00

49,982.53

46.00

64,658.53

89.2%

2009

25,869.00

1008

25.7

11,334.52

21,491.75

0.00

32,826.27

83.1%

2010

91,784.50

4403

20.8

12,210.00

73,862.28

113.00

86,185.28

80.5%

2011

86,220.00

4104

21.0

6,000.00

68,314.80

40.64

74,355.44

79.2%

2012

88,042.00

4042

21.8

8,957.10

68,604.00

0.00

77,561.10

77.9%

2013

111,007.00

4892

22.7

10,000.00

89,962.06

644.24

100,606.30

81.0%

2014

115,179.00

4866

23.7

25,814.30

91,025.50

380.86

117,220.66

79.0%

 

  * Statement year is from October 21 to October 20.  
  ** Includes expenditures on behalf of candidates and millages.  
  *** Includes an out-of-the-ordinary $51,805.59 payment dated 10/20/2005. Without it, total paid to telemarketer would be $113,441.65 and telemarketer payment as % of contributions would be 93.4.  

 

Send comments to stevenrharry@gmail.com. And if you've been solicited for a contribution to POAM, I'd like to hear from you. Call me at 517-505-2696.

 

Previous stories: