DETROIT (WJBK) - Craig Mauger of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (www.mcfn.org), and I talk a lot about money in politics.
As anyone who follows Craig's superlative work knows, there's more and more money going into political campaigns. And it's getting harder and harder to track. As luck would have it, we were both analyzing contributions to Detroit City Council candidates in 2017 when we started to notice some curious trends. City council races were getting pretty expensive.
And Super PACs were playing a pretty significant role.
Now, the Moroun family - owners of the Ambassador Bridge and a large trucking company - are known for making political contributions to politicians who share their views. So it was no surprise to see family members and executives at their companies contribute to city council members considered business-friendly or in key positions.
Campaign finance reports filed shortly before the Nov. 7, 2017 election revealed that the Morouns' Central Transport trucking firm contributed $60,000 to the Detroit Community Impact Committee, a Super PAC that spent tens of thousands trying to defeat City Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda-Lopez - a vocal critic of the family and their companies.
But as Craig and I dug deeper, we found that about half of the money the Moroun companies spent to influence voters was not revealed until after election day.
That's because the spending wasn't recorded until the final days of the election, meaning it would not have to be disclosed until the Super PACs filed their campaign finance reports in January.
Dan Stamper, president of the Morouns' Detroit International Bridge Company, told me the Morouns and their companies have no control over when the Super PACs spent the more than $200,000 Moroun companies sent them.
Contact M.L. Elrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-552-5261. Follow him on Facebook at "ML Elrick," on Twitter @elrick or on Instagram at "ml_elrick."