Moroun puts $31.3M into Prop 6 campaign

Moroun puts $31.3M into Prop 6 campaign

By Chad Livengood and Karen Bouffard
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Money poured into Michigan’s six ballot proposals has topped an unprecedented $138 million to inundate voters with advertising, according to campaign reports filed Friday with the Secretary of State.

In the past week, $15.7 million was collected by more than a dozen ballot committees campaigning for or against the measures, according to reports on contributions made since Sunday.

As of Oct. 21, more than $105 million had been spent in campaigns to amend the constitution to create new hurdles for building international bridges, to enshrine union rights, restrict tax increases, mandate more renewable energy production and give home health care workers collective bargaining rights.

“There’s never been anything like this before, not even remotely like that,” said Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun has dumped $31.3 million into his Proposal 6 campaign to require statewide votes on tunnels and bridges to Canada, according to campaign finance reports. The proposal is meant to sideline Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan for a publicly owned bridge, which Moroun’s company contends would harm their lucrative border business.

“This is a principle issue with the Moroun family. They bought this (bridge) in good faith, paid a fair price for it and somebody wants to take it away from them,” said Detroit International Bridge Co. President Dan Stamper.

Through the end of the latest reporting period Sunday, Moroun’s DIBC had put $24.2 million in cash into the campaign. Then the Warren-based company kicked in another $7.35 million this week for additional television and radio air time purchases through the election, records show.

Also, Moroun has spent another $9.3 million in TV ads over the past two years railing against Snyder’s bridge plan, bringing the billionaire trucking mogul’s running tab to $40.6 million in documented spending.

Snyder will hit the road Monday for a four-day whirlwind tour of the state to convince voters to vote “no” on all of the proposals except Proposal 1, which would uphold the emergency manager law Snyder supports.

Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, a ballot committee opposed to Proposals 2, 3 and 4, will pay to shrink-wrap Snyder’s bus with the slogan “Yes on One … No on the rest,” Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said.

Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which opposes Proposal 6, said Moroun’s spending “may have crossed that line between enough and too much” and could backfire on Election Day.

A small opposition group has raised less than 3 percent of money Moroun has spent on the Proposal 6 campaign.

“When you see spending at that level, I think you have a better idea why the opponents of Proposal 6 chose not to get in an arms race that you can’t win,” Studley said.

Told of Moroun’s spending on Proposal 6, Wurfel replied: “That’s sad and pretty telling.

“Money can certainly buy you a lot of ads and propaganda, but it can’t buy facts and the truth.”

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