News Story

State Drops Links To Left-Leaning Political Websites After Inquiry

Official website on campaign finance had skewed representation

The Center for Public Integrity advertises itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization based in Washington, D.C.

Its board of directors contains a who’s Who of liberal news organizations. The board includes Arianna Huffington, who launched the liberal Huffington Post; Jennifer Lee, a former New York Times reporter; Amit Paley, former Washington Post reporter; Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, a senior editor of the far-left Mother Jones magazine; and Matt Thompson, former editorial manager at National Public Radio.

Yet, until recently, Michigan’s Secretary of State office had linked to websites of the Center for Public Integrity and two other advocacy organizations on the state’s webpage on campaign finance.

The Secretary of State also linked to the websites of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network and the National Institute on Money in State Politics, both nonpartisan nonprofits.

Once the Secretary of State was notified of the questionable links, the office removed those groups from the page.

“We reviewed the page you asked about and will be linking to only official government campaign-finance and disclosure websites going forward,” said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for the Secretary of State. “There are many excellent organizations that offer campaign transparency and disclosure resources so citizens can be informed voters. However, as we are not realistically able to link to them all, we have decided to only promote official government sites.”

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network lists five people who have run for partisan office on its board of directors. Lynn Jondahl, who served a Democratic state representative for three decades, is the board chairman. Three of the other people listed with political experience ran as Democrats.

Joe Schwarz is one of two people on the board who ran for political office as Republicans. However, in 2012, Michigan Radio commentator Jack Lessenberry said that Schwarz considered running for U.S. Congress as a Democrat that year.

The other MCFN board member listed as a Republican is former state Rep. Chris Ward. Ward resigned from a House Republican caucus leadership position in 2008 after he was one of just two Republicans to vote “yes” on former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s state income tax hike, which increased the rate from from 3.9 percent to 4.35 percent.

Also, the board vice chair is Patricia Donath, who was past president of the left-leaning League of Woman Voters of Michigan.

Bert Brandenburg, who chairs the board of directors for the National Institute on Money in State Politics, served on the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign. Brandenburg donated $500 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“Those [organizations] aren’t resources,” said Eric Doster, former general counsel for the state Republican Party. “That’s propaganda. That should not be what the state promotes.”

Correction: Eric Doster is the former general counsel for the GOP.