We're all familiar with the secret ballot in our democratic republic. Now, Michigan apparently has secret lobbying.
The Michigan Campaign Finance Network reported today that it found $4.7 million in broadcast ad spending by the Detroit International Bridge Co. so far in 2011 -- and none of it has been reported as lobbying.
The ad campaign by DIBC (parent firm of the Moroun family's Ambassador Bridge) is clearly designed to convince legislators not to approve the construction of a second bridge near Detroit -- the New International Trade Crossing -- that would compete with the Ambassador.
As MCFN's Rich Robinson wrote today: "This is a clear example of a major deficiency in the state’s lobbying disclosure system ... Detroit International Bridge Company should have registered as a lobbyist and reported its $4 million grassroots lobbying campaign. Instead, it reported nothing.”
See the MCFN news release here.
The Moroun family is vigorously pursuing its interests as it sees them. There's nothing inherently inappropriate about such a move. The larger question for Michigan citizens is whether the rules that govern the flow of money into the political process advance the broader public interest?