MICHIGAN TRUTH SQUAD ANALYSIS: "Headlines"
What: Television ad
Truth Squad call: Foul
HandsOffOurConstitution.com is a website created by Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, which is working to defeat ballot proposals that would amend the state constitution. The group was created by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and had raised $340,150 through July 20.
Questionable statement: "Here they come again. Special interest groups want to rewrite Michigan’s constitution -- your constitution. They’ll spend tens of millions to get you to say yes to their hidden agendas."
Seven ballot committees seeking to put questions on the November ballot have raised $22.2 million for their campaigns through July 20, according to state financial disclosures. Committees formed to oppose the ballot questions have raised another $7.3 million.
Among the issues that could reach the November ballot are proposed constitutional amendments on renewable energy standards, collective bargaining, unionized health care, supermajority voting to raise taxes and voter approval of international bridges. A referendum on the state’s emergency manager law has been certified for the ballot by the state Supreme Court.
Rich Robinson, president of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, told the Truth Squad that Michigan could be on its way to record spending on ballot issues this year.
But that likely depends, he said, on whether the courts restore a collective bargaining amendment and a proposal allowing eight new casinos to the ballot. The Board of State Canvassers rejected both petitions.
This ad shows a man paging through various newspaper stories, columns and editorials about the various ballot proposals. The ad does not explain the "hidden agendas" it claims the groups have in promoting their causes.
One of the newspapers shown in the ad features an op-ed piece by former state Attorney General Frank Kelley, who opposes a ballot proposal requiring utilities to provide 25 percent of the state’s electricity by 2025.
Kelley’s lobbying firm, Kelley Cawthorne, counts DTE Energy as one of its clients, according to state financial disclosure records. Link to Kelley Cawthorne’s client disclosure:
Through July 20, DTE Energy had given $2,774,578.76 to CARE for Michigan, a group opposed to raising the state’s renewable energy standard from 10 percent. CARE for Michigan’s treasurer is listed as being located at DTE Energy’s headquarters in Detroit.
Questionable statement: "Their proposals are loaded with loopholes and special-interest power grabs so they can cash in on our constitution. Make no mistake; their plans will cost you a bundle."
The ad does not explain how these ballot issues are "loaded with loopholes." It also doesn’t explain how the proposals will "cost you a bundle." It likely refers to the possibility that energy and labor costs could rise (or at least not go down) if voters approve the ballot proposals.
Overall impression: This ad is all about making sweeping claims about groups that are seeking to amend the constitution: "hidden agendas," "loaded with loopholes," "special-interest power grabs," "cost you a bundle." But the ad offers nothing to back up its claims.
Foul or no foul: Foul, for making numerous claims about the motivations of groups that want to amend the constitution without providing any supporting evidence that those claims are true.