Capital Reporting

With a deep bench and a commitment to government accountability, Michigan Capitol Confidential continues to break stories that much of the mainstream media doesn’t have the resources or political will to touch. Whether at the local, state or federal level, CapCon is exposing questionable policies, inaccurate reporting and key votes that politicians hoped no one would notice.


The top story on July 13 was the Lawrence Public Schools use of its phone alert system to send out a robocall instructing residents and parents how to participate in the recall effort against Gov. Rick Snyder.

Capitol Confidential’s Jack Spencer called the superintendent of the district. “It will never happen again” Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent John Overley told Spencer. “It will not be done again, ever.”

The article became a national news story when it was picked up by, home of “Instapundit” blogger Glenn Reynolds.

Over the course of several weeks, CapCon also reported that several school districts that earlier in the year were warning of mass teacher firings and layoffs in the face of small funding cuts have actually maintained staffing levels or added teachers. Reporter Tom Gantert, working with Education Policy Director Michael Van Beek, also wrote about several school districts that were claiming severe budget cuts, when in reality those districts’ spending has increased year after year.


While a united mainstream media chorus was repeating the conventional understanding that
Gov. Snyder’s first budget agreement would cut state spending, Capitol Confidential readers learned from Mackinac Center analysts James Hohman and Jack McHugh that the truth was a lot more complicated.

The pair concluded that state spending from resources taken directly from Michigan taxpayers will actually increase in the next fiscal year by $758 million. In other words, the money that state lawmakers most directly control — and the spending that hits state taxpayers the hardest — will be higher in the next fiscal year.


In June, there was a two-front fight against Project Labor Agreements — a special perk that effectively shuts out non-union merit-shop contractors from government construction projects and thus drives up the cost to taxpayers. That month featured three votes at the state and national level to kill PLAs: the U.S. House of Representatives, the Michigan House of Representatives, and the Michigan Senate each had roll call votes forcing members to state their position
on the issue.

Support amongst Michigan Republicans to kill the PLAs was nearly unanimous. A bill to kill PLAs moved through the Michigan Legislature with unanimous GOP support and was signed by Gov. Snyder.

At the national level, one Republican lawmaker from Michigan voted with the unions: Congressman Thad McCotter of Livonia. One type of PLA mandate imposed by President Obama survived the U.S. House by a single vote, and thus never went to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Effectively this means that Rep. McCotter could have changed the outcome in the House by simply voting the other way — or even just not voting at all.

This was the story posted on Capitol Confidential on June 23.

On June 24, Rep. McCotter called in as the guest interview to the USA Talk Radio website. The host, Steve Rosenblum, asked about the Capitol Confidential article and received what Rosenblum would later characterize as a response that was “a little testy” in comparison to his previous chats with the congressman.

Rather than address the substance of PLA policy, Rep. McCotter instead took issue with whether or not his vote was the deciding vote. And then he quickly announced that he needed to catch an airplane.