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MEA Attack Ad Slams Voting Record of 52nd District Representative Republican Mark Ouimet

The Michigan Education Association is neither openly supporting nor contributing financially to the effort to recall Republican Governor Rick Snyder as well as the nine Republican state legislators who have been targeted. That’s according to the organizers of the Committee to Recall Rick Snyder (formerly Michigan Citizens United) in a May 9, 2011 interview A2Politico did with the group. In response to the question: “Has the MEA or any other education union affiliate or national office expressed support of this recall effort? Have you asked the MEA’s political action committee for its financial help/support?” organizers told A2Politico that:

We have been frustrated by the lack of official support from the MEA and many other unions.  We have had very good support from individual union members and even a few staffers, such as Gail.  We do understand that the unions are reluctant to endorse a recall attempt, but at least their members seem to be supporting the effort with their time and their own money.  Yes, we have asked the MEA and many others.  So far the results are a lot of good wishes, but not much in the way of overt support.

Today, organizers of the recall effort commented about the attack ad via Twitter. They said: ”The MEA has its own agenda as far as we understand. Who they attack, really has nothing to do with us.” Recall organizers also said that MEA officials had not been in touch with them.

The MEA may not be supporting the recall efforts directly, but the union, one of Michigan’s most powerful political players, has launched an advertising campaign which attacks 52nd District Representative Mark Ouimet (pictured left) for his recent votes to cut education funding and award $1.8 billion dollars in tax cuts to businesses. Ouimet, along with eight other Republican state legislators, have been targeted for recall because, among other considerations, he won by fewer than 1,800 votes and could be recalled much more easily than Snyder. Organizers, who began collecting signatures at a May 21, 2011 rally in Lansing that drew an estimated 6,000 attendees, must collect over 800,000 signatures from registered voters to put the question of recalling Michigan’s Governor on the ballot. To put the question of recalling Ouimet on the ballot, organizers would need to collect 10,546 signatures.

The Michigan Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, took in over $199,000,000 in 2010, including dues from its 153,000 members who pay $620 each per year for representation. In 2010, according to documents filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, the organization spent $3.8 million on political activities, including lobbying. In the 2010 election to replace Democrat Pam Byrnes in the 52nd District, Ouimet raised an impressive $290,550, including thousands from local Ann Arbor Democrats, including the former Superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Dr. Todd Roberts. He did not, however, get a dime from the Michigan Education Association. According to campaign finance records, Ouimet took in the bulk of his donations from himself, some $82,043, followed by a $10,400 donation from the Michigan Republican Party.

Ouimet’s opponent, Democrat Christine Green, took in an equally impressive $217,543 in donations, again according to campaign finance documents filed with the State of Michigan. Like Ouimet, Green self-financed a part of her campaign to the tune of $29,342, and she took in over 25 percent of the her money from the Michigan House Democratic Fund, some $55,594. Democrat Green also took in a $4,950 donation from the Michigan Education Association. In the 2010 elections, the MEA donated a total of $1.041 million dollars to 315 Democratic and 67 Republican candidates. The local politico who got the largest donation from the MEA was Ann Arbor’s State Senator, Democrat Rebekah Warren, to whose campaign the union donated $9,900.

To put the MEA’s $1.041 million dollars in donations into perspective, Republican Rick Snyder self-funded $5.88 million dollars of his $11 million dollar campaign, and the Republican Governors Association, in Washington, DC., donated $5.21 million to candidates in Michigan, primarily through a $5.2 million dollar donation to the Michigan Republican Party. The Michigan House Democratic Fund spent $3 million dollars supporting 22 candidates for state office, including Christine Green. Michigan Republican businessman and one-time political candidate Dick DeVos dropped $917,550 supporting four candidates, three of whom won. Robert Lynas, Preisdent of RA Miller Industries, spent $867,950 in 2010 supporting three Republican candidates and the Michigan Republican Party.

Together, individuals DeVos and Lynas spent $690,950 more than the Michigan Education Association did on candidate and party donations in 2010.

The MEA’s Director of Public Affairs, Doug Pratt, when asked about whether the union was targeting Michigan legislators in addition to Ouimet, and whether the ad buy is related to the recently launched recall effort told A2Politico via email, “We are running an ad campaign that holds Republican legislators accountable for the votes they’ve taken to cut public education in order to pay for their massive tax break for corporate CEOs.  We will not let these decisions go by without ensuring that voters are aware of what their lawmakers are doing to our state. The campaign does go beyond Rep. Ouimet, however, we are not publicly releasing any other details about the buy.”

Representative Ouimet commented via email this afternoon. He wrote, “I haven’t seen the ad and won’t comment on their [MEA] strategy. However, I’m hearing from many families in our district that their number one priority is jobs – and their second priority is fiscal responsibility. I was sent to Lansing to make the tough decisions, and I said throughout the campaign that we needed to eliminate Michigan’s job-killing business tax, which we’ve done, and to put the state’s fiscal house in order so that we are on stronger footing going forward.” 

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Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=8280

15 Comments for “MEA Attack Ad Slams Voting Record of 52nd District Representative Republican Mark Ouimet”

  1. [...] poor support of Virg Bernero did, in fact, drag down the Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate, as well as a Washtenaw County Democratic candidate for the state legislature from the 52nd District. In October 2010 Virg Bernero was dubbed an [...]

  2. Michigan’s unemployment rate has fallen from 14.7 to 10.2% – with no real government intervention at the state level. We are climbing out of the Great Recession but the Republicans don’t want this known; they’re using deficit panic to stampede a lot of legislators and voters into doing stuff that really won’t do much but will satisfy their ideological goals.

    I say we start the job creation clock at 10.2% and let’s see how the $1.8 billion lowers it – if anyone cares to try and measure it.

  3. The point is there is recovery without the MBT being rolled back.
    For the record, I’m not a big fan of the tax, but it is not the Holy Grail of economic policy Rick Snyder thinks it is. It’s just his pet cause…

  4. Are they?
    This is Ford’s money that doing this?

  5. @Rose:
    Aren’t Chrysler and GM immune to taxation for ten years because of the bailout?

  6. @Erin,
    The auto industry imploded, we get it. Prove that a billion dollars in tax cuts to small business only brings back significant jobs. Because it’s the big 3 making the money in the state right now and they pay the tax the small business just got exempt. Just because you think something has cause and effect, doesn’t mean it does. Prove it.

  7. I was at the Michigan Republican Convention last August in East Lansing and the MEA Republican Caucus was passing out buttons from their promotional booth to attendees who were rather surprised at the MEA’s presence at the convention. Their representative replied that it was deemed prudent by the MEA to play both sides of the fence politically.

    Mark Ouimet is part of a Ann Arbor-based clique that exerts great influence over the direction of the Michigan GOP. Ouimet has ties to many local Democrats from his years on the County Commission. It does not surprise me he may have some donations from Democrats. This clique is not considered politically conservative but rather pro-business in orientation and Rick Snyder of Superior Towmship was the fellow who was picked in 2010 to be their man for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

    Don’t expect the recall effort to go anywhere.

  8. @Rster the Detroit Free Press did an investigative piece that revealed only about 1,100 actual jobs had been created between 2006-2009 by the MEDC’s 21st Century Jobs Fund. I wrote about it here: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=4229. Your Representative’s answer that it’s not possible to count the number of jobs created is typical politibabble. Of course we should demand accountability. That’s $1 billion dollars we’re talking about.

  9. @ Rster –
    Some ‘measurements’ you can bank on:
    Current high unemployment rate
    Number of jobs lost over past 5 years
    Houses in foreclosure
    Mortgages underwater
    Total bankruptcies
    Folks on State aid programs

    All these measurements are now or have recently been at historic highs in Michigan.
    None of this leads to a strong tax base.
    Perhaps Lansing will be able to stop all this massive bleeding – whatever it takes will certainly take years.
    Check back in 2015.

  10. Well, maybe there’s like a 50 jobs a year growth per million or something really lame like that, so someone could say it works, just weakly, and that’s not the message they want to send. It was an enormous tax break, and for a very select group, at the expense of lots of other people. Governor Snyder got what he wanted, and if some legislators lose their jobs, it’s no skin off his nose.

  11. Still waiting for someone to mention the word ‘measurement’ on these tax cuts to businesses. The governor and his staff and my legislator (Rick Olson) all tell me there’s no way to measure if the nearly $2 billion we’re handing to these businesses will result in ANY jobs. ‘Uncountable’ is how Olson described it.

    If there’s a will there’s a way to measure the impact on job creation but none of these folks (any more than the folks at SPARK) want to actually find out if this scheme works. Billions and the answer is that we can’t measure the effectiveness of this !

    Ridiculous? Of course, it is because they know that actually measuring the results would demonstrate that the concept is flawed and doesn’t really work (e.g. this is a myth) and they don’t want that to happen.

  12. Or not…there’s more money in the coffers this year without that tax break for small businesses. Yeah, I can see where schools are just a special interest group, unlike small businesses, differentiated from larger businesses, which are really driving the train economically in the state still.
    All those smaller businesses where dependent on the big 3, with all that disposable income, and those businesses are what the Gov decided to tax…
    Like I said, it’ll be up to the voters, and it won’t just be small business owners that will be casting votes in the next election. This was Mark Ouimet’s choice. He has to represent the people who will vote for him, and if he doesn’t, they will not vote for him again.

  13. The tax base in Michigan has been hit really hard: we have lost nearly one million workers over ten years (down to near 4.5 million on payrolls), the State has seen Zero population growth over a decade, salaries in the private sector are down about 25%; property values are down from 30-60% –
    Something has to be done to get those lost jobs back. Lowering tax rates is a start.

  14. Hard choices are not always popular with special interests that don’t want to see their gravy train end. Someone has to make the tough decisions, that’s what we expect from leaders. It’s men and women like Mark Ouimet that will bring this state back from the brink.

    The citizens of Michigan needs jobs they can depend on and a Government that won’t squander their hard earned dollars they surrender to it. We need real leaders in Lansing like Mark Ouimet not lap dogs of the MEA or any other special interest.

  15. Mark Ouimet made a vote alright, giving small business the tax break,not big business not GM, or
    Chrysler or Ford, who are pulling out of their holes, and took away a lot of money from school districts to appease ALEC and the Mackinac Center. His choice. We’ll see if he gets reelected…

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