[Photo of Ken Braun]

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is the former managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential, the Center's daily online news site and quarterly newsletter on state and local public policy. He also is the former director of MichiganTransparency.org and "Show Michigan the Money," the Mackinac Center's projects on government transparency. For the five years prior to his joining the Center in 2006, Braun was a chief of staff for a Michigan state representative. His primary policy tasks in that post involved tax and budget matters, but he worked extensively on a variety of other topics, including municipal water systems, telecommunications and ballot access for minor political parties. Braun also assisted in writing Op-Eds that were published in Michigan’s largest newspapers.

Prior to his work in the Legislature, Braun served as a campaign manager for a Michigan state legislator. He also worked in his family’s retail lighting business in Farmington Hills, Mich. Braun graduated in 1990 with a degree in international relations from Michigan State University’s James Madison College. 

MichCapCon Flashback: The Republicans Who Blocked Charter School Choice

Michigan’s ‘Hollywood Welfare’ Plan: Stylish Stars Trumping Taxpayers

The Republicans Who Blocked Charter School Choice

Should Teachers Be Treated Less Professionally Than Linebackers?

Are Reluctant Reformers in Republican Ranks Seeking Cover Behind Social Issues?

Inconvenient Truths Disappear Down Government ‘Memory Holes’

Michigan Carpenters’ Union Constructing a Fake Dispute

The Public Purpose of Our ‘Professors’ Email’ FOIA Request

House of Reps. Employee Names and Salaries Posted

Pure Spending — GOP Finds More for Tourism Subsidies

Commentary: The Willie Sutton Rule

Michigan Teacher Pay 16.5 Percent Higher Than Indiana

Tea Party Could Cut Up the Federal Credit Card

Politician Puppy Training

Lawmaker Seeks More Transparency for SWAT Team Raids

George Soros and the Plot to Take Judicial Selections Away from Voters

Michigan’s Government-Mandated Beer Contracts: Harder to Escape Than Marriage?

Commentary: Courage, Cuts, K-12 and the Snyder Business Tax

Which Republicans Can Snyder Count on for K-12 Reform?

‘My House Was Placed in a Union!’

The $39 Billion Bill for 'One of the Best Public Pensions Around'

Michigan’s Most Expensive Mass Transit Agencies

Costly Union Worker Special Favor Barely Survives With Help of Two Michigan Republicans

Mandatory Phone Books and Filmmaker Welfare in the 'Harrison Bergeron' State

House of Reps Adopts ‘Open Kimono’ Policy for Salaries and Other Financial Info

Pure Spending — GOP Finds More for Tourism Subsidies

New GOP House Member Is One of Top Recipients for Teacher Union Money

No More Excuses

Michigan Carpenters’ Union Constructing a Fake Dispute

Commentary: The Willie Sutton Rule

Decorating the “Christmas Tree” Budgets

Politician Staffs: Your Money, Their Secret

Politician Puppy Training

Tea Party Could Cut Up the Federal Credit Card

Michigan Teacher Pay 16.5 Percent Higher Than Indiana

Big Labor Fights Against Lansing Entrepreneurs … and Virg Bernero?

Speed Bump in Way of School Savings Could Be Removed by Republican Wave

Government Unions: The Real Wealth in American Politics

New GOP House Candidate Is One of Top Recipients for Teacher Union Money

Michigan Pols Approve Stimulus Spending

More Federal Spending On the Way — And the Michigan House Asked for It

Three Unpaid Parking Tickets? No License!

Crony Capitalism at the State Capitol

The Big Election Day That You Don’t Know About

Republican Senator Squawks at Stimulus Spending

How Fees Fuel Big Government

The Tax Hiker's Shopping Guide

Public Payrolls and Political Workers

Living Here in Allentown

Replacing Brian Calley

Public Salary Database Puts Political Work of State Employee Under Scrutiny

BREAKING NEWS: Oakland County Clerk claims forged candidate filing from “fake” Tea Party

Michigan Pols Approve Stimulus Spending

Three Unpaid Parking Tickets? No License!

Snyder and Cox - Top Spenders on Facebook Fans

Voter Scorecard Designed to 'Make Lansing Listen'

The state's lawmakers need to understand that they will be judged by actual deeds and votes, not just the mere words that they speak on the campaign trail in advance of the Aug. 3 primary election. That's the message that Common Sense in Government hopes to deliver to politicians with their Common Sense Votes Scorecard — a spreadsheet tabulation of a dozen votes in the Michigan House and seven in the Senate impacting the "limited government, free market principles that Michigan needs to get back on the right track." … more

Find Out Who Works for YOU in the Michigan Legislature

More Federal Spending On the Way — And the Michigan House Asked for It

MichCapCon Profile: The 12th State Senate District Primary

Sun May Finally Shine on State Pols' Staff Salary Secrets

Michigan's Freedom of Information Act requires that the politicians running local governments tell taxpayers who has been hired to work for them and how much those persons are being paid. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick — made infamous in part because of his "friends and family" hiring policy — had to disclose this information.
But if you're the governor of Michigan or one of the lawmakers running either chamber of the Michigan Legislature, such rules literally do not apply to you, because of a little-known secrecy perk in FOIA.
If any of the five men running on the GOP side to become Michigan's next governor win the job, this shroud of secrecy could be lifted. … more

MichCapCon Profile: The 3rd Congressional District Primary

Opposition Grows to Dept. of State Modernization Plan

House Votes to Temporarily Trim Political Staff Benefits

New Law Allows Some to Collect State Pension and a Paycheck

Two GOP Reps Help Dems Dump Right-to-Work

MichCapCon Profile: The 6th Congressional District Primary

MichCapCon Profile: The 11th State Senate District Primary

MichCapCon Profile: The 2nd Congressional District Primary

MichCapCon Profile: The 30th State Senate District Primary

MichCapCon Profile: The 12th Congressional District Primary

Bouchard 'Would Not Hesitate' to End State's Economic Central Planning Agency

Critics Shoot at Special Tax Deal for Super Speedway

Pols Admit Bad Votes on Bad Driver Fees

When she was a state representative in 2003, Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson was one of a minority to vote against a law that imposed stiff financial penalties on so-called "bad drivers." Advertised as a public safety measure, Johnson and others believe the law was really designed to rake in more money for state government. In addition to harsher fines for objectively dangerous violations such as impaired and reckless driving, the "Driver Responsibility Fee" law also applies additional fees for those with conduct on their record that isn't as clearly dangerous, such as multiple speeding tickets and failure to produce proof of a license or insurance when asked to do so by a police officer. … more

Union PAC Money and Michigan's Members of Congress

Critics Say Congressman McCotter Supports “Bailout” of Union Pensions

Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter, R-Livonia, is one of just nine Republicans nationwide to co-sponsor legislation that seeks to bail out union pension funds and put taxpayers "on the hook for $165 billion in unfunded union pension liabilities," according to Americans for Limited Government. McCotter is also the only Michigan U.S. House member from either party to co-sponsor the bill, H.R. 3936, which was introduced by North Dakota Democrat Earl Pomeroy and has 43 total co-sponsors. … more

Hoekstra Is Only Above-Average GOP U.S. Rep. on 'Pro-Growth' Congressional Scorecard

In the free-market Club for Growth's just-released 2009 Congressional Scorecard, the average score for Michigan's Republican members of Congress is more than a dozen percentage points below the average score of 82.7 percent posted by all GOP members in Congress… more

Commentary: Crony Capitalism at the State Capitol

The people who own a Michigan insurance company have been effectively deprived of their power to sell their own investment under a new law hurriedly introduced and overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature this spring. Fearing that they could not stop the owner-investors of Fremont Insurance from selling it to another company, the politically well-connected board of directors has decided to keep control in their hands by changing state law. Frank Kavanaugh, a stockholder with over $3 million invested in Fremont, says this decision by his own employees is akin to "investing in protection and influence instead of the success and growth of the business."
Another term for it is "crony capitalism" — when business and politicians gang up to thwart the marketplace and the rule of law. … more

MichCapCon.com Flashback: Total Recall

House Votes to Temporarily Trim Legislative Employee Benefits

A bill that would temporarily trim the taxpayer-provided 401(k) matching payments for employees of the Michigan Legislature was overwhelmingly approved on April 21, on a vote of 91-17. Just three Republicans voted against the measure, along with fourteen Democrats. A similar proposal that applies to the lawmakers themselves was approved on a vote of 99-9, with Democrats providing all nine "no" votes. … more

Michigan's Newest Accidental Activists

Most Tea Party activists didn't plan to take on their role, and many are brand new to politics — literally accidental activists created by the times, rather than their passion for politics.
Aside from voting regularly, business owner Ben DiPonio of Milford says he wasn't ever anyone's definition of a political activist. But as the train to federalized health care clattered clumsily to the president's desk earlier this year, a frustrated DiPonio, 64, found himself repeatedly screaming at his television. His wife Joanne told him to either shut it off, or do something about it.
The Italian immigrant, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1982, decided to do something, and attended his first Tea Party at the state capitol last month.
What was just yelling at the TV a few weeks ago is now the Tea Party Patriots of West Oakland County… more

‘Green’ Students Clean Fridges, Check Tires

Subsidies for ‘Free’ Golf Carts?

Roger Redux: Michael Moore’s Contradictions Are Old News

Legislators Slam Potential Savings at Secretary of State

Are Bus Fares Fair?

State Politicos Skip Tea Party

Social Security Explained

Does Your Candidate Pledge to End Federalized Health Care?

Just two members of Michigan's delegation to Congress have signed a national pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare with "real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government."
At the beginning of this year, as the president and Congress began pushing toward the finish line with their effort to federalize control of the U.S. health care system, the Washington D.C.-based Club for Growth began retargeting its opposition toward the 2010 election by creating the "Repeal It" pledge. It asks 2010 candidates for Congress to pledge to strike down the federalized health care law. As of Monday afternoon, 72 current members of Congress and 307 candidates have signed on. This includes just two current members from Michigan and twelve challengers… more

A Pair of Republicans Help House Dems Dump Right-to-Work

Two Republicans joined a united Democrat caucus in the Michigan House to oppose a recent vote on whether local governments in Michigan should be permitted to create "right-to-work zones." Within these proposed zones, employers would be prohibited from compelling an employee to join a union under threat of either being fired or never hired in the first place. Free-market labor analysts have repeatedly noted that there is a strong correlation between a state's economic growth and whether it provides right-to-work protections to its workers. And polling data has indicated strong public support for Michigan becoming a right-to-work state. … more

Latest Vote Shows Dept. of State's Cost-Saving Plan Now Opposed by 71 in House — Including Seven GOP

While nearly all of the Republican lawmakers in Lansing have been generically very eager to proclaim their desire to cut the cost of state government — and for reductions in the cost of the state workforce in particular — some have been voting down the Secretary of State's effort to actually implement a specific plan to do so — when it impacts their interests. … more

School Pension Reform Stalls in Senate

A plan to reform public school pensions and set them more in line with private-sector retirement standards — and thus save Michigan taxpayers an estimated $3.5 billion over the next 10 years — stalled in the Michigan Senate as that chamber prepared to leave for its spring break. Although GOP senators cast blame for the failure at Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Democrats, Republican sources said that only 18 votes could be mustered for the measure, leaving it two votes shy of passage in a chamber where Republicans hold a 22-16 majority. … more

Bill Allowing State Nurses to Collect Pensions While Still Working Passes Overwhelmingly

Michigan House Bill 4248 would allow retired nurses who worked for the state Department of Corrections to return to a job with the department on a part-time basis and collect both their full pension payout and a salary. This "double dipping" by state workers is prohibited by a 2007 law, according to the House Fiscal Agency. The new bill was advanced because the DoC states that it has a nursing shortage and is in need of an enticement to bring more help to their facilities.
A memo from the Senate Fiscal Agency indicates that the policy might bring about "modest savings" for the department.
However, the SFA also notes that savings for the DOC could come at a cost in another area because it will encourage current nurses to retire early and then return for the salary on top of their full pension payout. To the extent that this occurs, it will increase claims against the state's public employee pension system. … more

Many Senators Refuse to Stand Against "Ineffective Teachers"