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Secretary of State Johnson Calls For Disclosure Of “Dark Money”

Republicans in Lansing are split over whether people who bankroll so-called “issue ads” should be allowed to remain anonymous.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson proposed a rule to require disclosure just hours before Michigan Senate Republicans voted to block her effort.

The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Rick Pluta explains.

Issue ads attack or support politicians or causes without using what are called “magic words” such as “vote for” that would make them campaign ads. Unlike campaign ads, the money behind issue ads can be anonymous. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says, too often, issue ads are just thinly disguised political ads, and people should know who is paying for them.

“We believe if we do this properly, it will go through and it will go into effect and the ultimate winners are the voters,” she says

But some Republicans disagree. The GOP-led Senate acted quickly to amend a campaign finance bill to put the status quo into law. It also doubled the amount of money donors can give to political funds.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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