Post-Citizens United cash flowing into Michigan elections

One of the candidates for Michigan Supreme Court has aired television ads in which he says he’s got something in common with the rest of Michigan residents; he’s tired of the negative political advertising (ironically, the ad is often running immediately following a negative ad aimed at one of his opponents). And he’s right. It does seem that the number of advertisements – negative and otherwise – has sort of exploded in a way that it hasn’t before, even during the 2008 presidential election season.

There’s a good reason for that: There’s a lot more money flowing into the political pipeline this year, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The decision opened the door for PAC-funded elections here and around the country, reports Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

According to an MCFN press release:

The Michigan Association of Realtors has established an eponymously named second political action committee with a $200,000 contribution from the National Association of Realtors and $250,000 from its own issue fund. The new corporate PAC made $450,000 worth of independent expenditures for media buys supporting Republican Supreme Court nominees Robert Young and Mary Beth Kelly.

Corporate PACs are limited to making independent expenditures. They are not allowed to contribute directly to candidates.

The second new corporate PAC is Business Leaders for Michigan II. The new corporate PAC received $20,000 from Meijer, Inc. and $5,000 each from an assortment of Michigan-based businesses. Its independent expenditures so far supported the senate campaigns of David Hildenbrand ($62,569) and Tonya Schuitmake ($23,741).

The biggest PAC in Michigan this election cycle is RGA Michigan PAC. RGA MI PAC is a creation of the Republican Governors Association and a piece of a national effort by the RGA. It was established this year.

Michigan connections to the RGA include the following:
• The Michigan Chamber of Commerce gave $5.4 million from its corporate treasury to RGA this year.
• Various individuals from around the country have given RGA MI PAC $8.4 million. Only $175,000 came from persons with Michigan addresses.
• RGA MI PAC sent $3 million to the campaign committee of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
• Of the remaining $5.4 million, RGA MI PAC gave more than $4 million to the Michigan Republican Party. It appears to have retained $1.3 million.
• Despite the fact that the RGA has paid for more than $3 million worth of television advertisements characterizing Virg Bernero as an unsuitable gubernatorial candidate, RGA MI PAC reports no expenditures for television advertising.

Beyond the development of the new corporate PACs, much looks familiar in the world of Michigan PACs. The legislative majority caucuses, House Democrats and Senate Republicans, follow RGA MI PAC at the top of the list, and established interest groups maintain their leading positions.

Leadership PACs reflect the changing of the guard in Lansing. The top leadership PAC is that of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, followed by Mitt Romney’s Free & Strong America PAC. The top leadership PACs under the control of officeholders who are presumed to be returning to Lansing in elective office in January are those of Sen. Mark Jansen and Rep. Richard Hammel.

Check the astounding amount of money being spent by Michigan’s top PAC’s here.

Casual [Wednesday] presents: Priorities, priorities

It can happen to any sports fan. Your team is playing in a very important game and you have something else scheduled for that day. Usually it involves your wife’s friend getting married or having this thing known as a “couples shower.”* Or worse, your third cousin’s son’s first birthday party.*

* I’ve never been but I hear they exist and are as excruciating as they sound.

The two main methods of coping are: 1) go to the event, record it and try like hell to avoid finding the score before you get home; or 2) lay your man card down and simply refuse to go. After all, you were smart enough to plan your event during the summer when nothing important happens. Why couldn’t they do the same?

Option 1 is probably the most pragmatic, but dodging score updates from other attendees is a bit like dodging landmines in the DMZ. Eventually, you’re going to step on one.

Option 2 earns you incredible amounts of respect from your friends, but quite possibly will lead to you being divorced/dumped/single again.

So, really, there’s no downside to Option 2.

But sometimes, these entanglements are work-related. Consider the case of Texas attorney Darrell Cook. He had a court hearing scheduled for today (October 27). But how was he to know that, after 38 years of futile existence, his beloved Texas Rangers would be starting the World Series that day in San Francisco and he’d have tickets?

Rather than just stip to a continuance, the city attorney wanted him to file a motion for it, so Cook did (with footnotes!), detailing the Rangers somewhat improbable ride to this point, and we all win because of it. A sample:

5. Everything between Darrell and the Rangers was business as usual this year:

a. Josh Hamilton was discovered drunk and covered in whip[sic]  cream;

b. Ron Washington was discovered to have ingested a “controlled substance” during the 2009 All-Star Break;2

c. The top two starters for the Rangers at the beginning of the season, Rich Harden and Scott Feldman, looked like they were completely unfamiliar with the tasks assigned to them and made a mockery of their roles as leaders of the pitching staff; and

d. The team declared bankruptcy and was sold via auction more befitting a used Buick than a major league baseball team.

Did I mention footnotes? Yeah, the footnotes are even better:

2 Ron Washington apparently convinced everyone that his usage of a “controlled substance” at an advanced age was his first go-arond with the highly addicting substance. Darrell finds this very dubious, but that’s how baseball go.

7 It should be pointed out that ARod a/k/a AFraud [Ed Note: former Texas Ranger] took a called third strike to end the series and secure the Pennant for the Rangers. It has no significance to this motion other than the fact that Darrell likes to point it out as much as possible.

And this excuse as to why his associate can’t attend in his stead because she’s having contractors do work at her house:

8 It should be noted here that Ms. Bryan made Darrell aware of this commitment quite some time ago, but the playoff scenario now facing Darrell seemed so remote at the time… .

The entire motion can be read here. HT: Texas Lawyer

Elsewhere , the lawsuit of the day: Wow, this insanely-hot hot sauce is really insanely hot. They should warn you on the label.

Maybe my kid shouldn’t eat it. Oops, too late. Maybe they should have warned me on the label. HT: Legal News Blog

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Halloween and elections: As tasty as a razor blade-filled Milky Way

You’ve got to love an online article teaser graphic that states: “The call is coming from inside the courthouse!”

Today at, you can find “Evil Men in Black Robes: Slate’s judicial election campaign ad spooktacular,” which proclaims:

If you’re a fan of “The Exorcist” and “Carrie,” if you like sex and violence and ominous music, you’ve come to the right place. Because we have gathered some of the most spine-chilling Halloween footage you will ever see — all produced in an effort to influence state judicial elections.

And, keeping in the spirit of slasher movies:

If judicial campaigns become just like other political campaigns, these ads will have sequels. And those sequels will be even scarier still.

Want a good reason to watch? One of the six featured ads has to do with the Michigan Supreme Court race. Why haven’t you seen it on TV? Because it’s an Internet exclusive. That means they can make it as scary as they want. Pshaw to FCC standards!

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MSC issues MCR orders, announces appointments

The Michigan Supreme Court, in an order issued yesterday, added three new rules to the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC).

New Rule 2.4, according to the staff comment, is designed to help parties involved in alternative dispute resolution to better understand the role of a lawyer serving as a third-party neutral.

New Rule 5.7, says the staff comment, creates an underlying presumption that the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct apply whenever a lawyer performs law-related services or controls an entity that performs law-related services. The accompanying commentary explains that the presumption may be rebutted only if the lawyer carefully informs the consumer and identifies the services that are law related and clarifies that no client-lawyer relationship exists with respect to ancillary services.

New Rule 6.6 addresses concerns that a strict application of conflict-of-interest rules may deter lawyers from volunteering to provide short-term legal services through nonprofit organizations, court-related programs, and similar other endeavors such as legal-advice hotlines, according to the staff comment.

The MSC also issued amendments and revised commentary to MRPC 3.1, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 5.5, and 8.5.

The complete text of the new and amended rules is contained in ADM File No. 2009-06.

The Court also proposed amendments to MCR 8.121 and 8.126.

According to the staff comment, the proposed amendment of MCR 8.121 addresses a situation in which attorneys charge more than the one-third contingency fee that is the allowable fee limit charged in wrongful death and personal injury actions.

The proposed changes to MCR 8.126 include a requirement that the fee be charged for each request for pro hac vice admission. The proposal’s staff comment also indicates that the court that grants the motion must send a copy of the order to the AGC (instead of requiring that the Michigan attorney send the copy to the AGC). The proposed amendment would apply to an attorney’s temporary admission for arbitration proceedings and requires that the admission fee be paid before the court issues an admission order.

In other action, the MSC:

  • reappointed David L. Porteous and appointed Barbara B. Smith as attorney members of the Attorney Grievance Commission for terms ending October 1, 2013. Kent J. Vana was reappointed chairperson of the commission and Martha D. Moore was reappointed vice-chairperson of the commission for terms ending October 1, 2011. ADM File No. 2010-01.
  • appointed the Honorable Linda S. Hallmark as chief judge of the Oakland County Probate Court for a term ending December 31, 2011. ADM File No. 2010-01.

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It was only a matter of time before Weaver/Young bickering resumed

“You’ve got plenty of material,” Weaver says near the end of this story. But something tells us there’s still more to come.

LANSING (AP) – A Michigan Supreme Court justice running for re-election acknowledged Friday that he used the N-word during a private conference with other justices in 2006.

Robert Young Jr. responded after former Justice Elizabeth Weaver gave a speech this week saying he used the racial slur and that it shows why he doesn’t deserve another eight-year term on the court.

Young, who is black, told the Associated Press that he used the word during an “impassioned plea” to emphasize how someone was being treated “without rights, without dignity.”

“I’m sorry that I used the term. … Obviously I was very hot about this. That’s why I used the word,” Young said. “I remember the heat and the purpose for using it.”

When pressed for details, he couldn’t recall the case.

Young said Weaver’s actions were an “outrage.”

“This is despicable. Justice Weaver hasn’t been called (the N-word) or been treated like one, but she finds it politically expedient to use it politically,” Young said. “All of my family has experienced it including me.”

In her speech in Traverse City, Weaver said Young used the slur in the plural form and was referring to a judicial candidate. She read from a May 2006 memo that she wrote and sent to all justices expressing disgust at Young’s remarks and other “unprofessional” incidents.

“Perhaps everyone should imagine that the court’s conferences are being televised,” Weaver said. “The public would be appalled at how the court’s business is often conducted.”

She also said that in April 2006 Young suggested to another justice that he use the phrase, “you ignorant slut,” when addressing the State Appellate Defender Commission. It was a phrase used years ago in a popular “Saturday Night Live” skit.

Young told the AP he couldn’t recall saying that.

Weaver, a moderate Republican, and Young, a conservative Republican, regularly clashed on the court. She quit in August, allowing Gov. Jennifer Granholm to appoint a replacement that put the court in a solid 4-3 Democratic majority.

Weaver’s speech and memo were posted on Reached by phone Friday, she said she was golfing and couldn’t comment further.

“They’re waiting for me,” she said of other golfers. “You’ve got plenty of material.”

Young said Weaver’s “rant” broke a rule that forbids disclosure of the Supreme Court’s private discussions.

“Justice Weaver never respected the conference privilege and that’s why we had to promulgate a rule,” he said.


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