Arthur N. Rupe Foundation Debate on Money in Politics: How Much Should Be Disclosed?

Mackinac Center partners with League of Women Voters of Michigan and The Federalist Society to host event

Thursday, June 18, 2015

“Transparency is inoculation against corruption.” — Rich Robinson

“Privacy in politics is a virtue, not a vice.” — Bradley A. Smith

MIDLAND — Kyle Melinn, news editor and co-owner of the Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) will moderate a debate on money in politics Thursday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m. at the Lansing Center Governor’s Room, 333 East Michigan Avenue in Lansing.

The debate features one of the country’s foremost experts on campaign finance law, Bradley A. Smith, who served as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission until 2005. Smith believes Americans should have the right to express their opinions on public policy without the government’s interference. “On Election Day, we vote in private booths to ensure that no one is harassed for their political views and everyone feels safe participating. But these days, our ability to participate in political life without publicizing our activity to the world is under attack. …” Smith is also a member of the Mackinac Center’s Board of Scholars.

Countering Smith’s arguments will be Rich Robinson, executive director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Robinson’s work on money in politics has been featured in The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Lansing State Journal and other newspapers across Michigan. His reporting has appeared in Mother Jones and the New York Times. He produces the biennial Citizens Guide to Michigan Campaign Finance. Robinson says knowing who is giving to political causes matters, “Because people don’t write six and seven-figure checks to political committees for selfless reasons. Big donors seek considerations. But if we don’t know who the donors are, we can’t tell when an officeholder is responding to a donor. We can’t tell when political considerations cross the line of unethical or illegal conduct.”

The debate is co-sponsored by League of Women Voters of Michigan and The Federalist Society.

The event is free and open to the public; however, the registration deadline is Monday, June 22. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Event Manager Kimberley Fischer-Kinne at 989-698-1905 or