How we make the call
Truth Squad assigns five ratings to the political statements we review, in descending levels of accuracy:
The race to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers in the 8th Congressional district has led to a heated battle in the Republican primary, between tea party favorite state Rep. Tom McMillin and former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop. The district includes parts of Ingham, Livingston and Oakland counties. McMillin is from Rochester Hills; Bishop resides in Rochester.
|Who:||Tom McMillin for Congress|
|What:||Campaign ad, “Mike Bishop Tax is bad for Michigan – vote for Tom McMillin”|
|The call:||No foul|
“Senator Mike Bishop helped Jennifer Granholm create the Michigan Business Tax … then he cut a deal with Granholm to raise it. No wonder people call the MBT the Mike Bishop Tax.”
In 2007, while serving as Senate Majority Leader, Bishop negotiated with Democratic Governor Granholm to replace the state’s much-maligned Single Business Tax. The MBT was at the time generally considered an improvement over the SBT. Bishop voted for the MBT, appearing at a press conference with Granholm to announce the deal, calling the MBT a “broadly based, fair tax.”
McMillin’s claim that Bishop “cut a deal to raise it (the MBT) refers to a budget standoff in October 2001, when state government was briefly shut down as the Legislature and Granholm argued over how to close a $1.75 billion deficit.
The deal that was reached included $1.35 billion in tax increases and $435 million in spending cuts.
Regarding the claim that people call the MBT the “Mike Bishop Tax,” Republican Party Vice Chairman Mike Hall created a website called mikebishoptax.com in 2010. The site has since been taken down. McMillin launched a similar website, www.mikebishoptax.net, paid for by McMillin’s campaign committee.
|The call:||No Foul|
While the “people” calling the MBT the Mike Bishop Tax appear mainly at this point to be the McMillin campaign, another Republican did coin the phrase years ago. And while the political and legislative need to pass the MBT to replace the SBT can be debated, there’s no doubt Bishop did have a hand in its formation and approval.
|Who:||Tom McMillin for Congress|
“Mike Bishop, the Washington elite’s anointed successor, betrayed the taxpayers while he was in Lansing” … (and) was voted ‘most liberal’ Republican senator.”
McMillin has mailed several large flyers to residents of the 8th Congressional district with similar claims. The claim that Bishop is the “Washington elite’s appointed successor” to current Rep. Mike Rogers is a reference to Bishop’s list of endorsements from powerful Republicans. Those endorsements for Bishop include Rogers himself, who, when endorsing Bishop, took a jab at McMillin by saying Bishop “won’t embarrass the district.”
Bishop also has the endorsement of Dick DeVos, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and many other establishment Republicans.
McMillin’s claim that Bishop betrayed taxpayers is a reference to Bishop’s actions as Senate Majority Leader to negotiate the creation and vote for the Michigan Business Tax, and to compromise with then Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm on tax increases to end a short government shutdown and eliminate a $1.75 billion revenue budget shortfall.
Whether those actions betrayed taxpayers is debatable. The MBT replaced the even more reviled Single Business Tax. And as Senate Majority leader wrestling with a Democrat-controlled House and governor’s office, Bishop had little choice but to negotiate during the 2007 budget crisis.
In 2008, MIRS capitol news service listed Bishop as tied for the “most liberal” Republican senator, based on votes cast that year. Two years later, the same news organization listed Bishop as the most conservative senator, based on votes taken that year – something that Bishop touts in his campaign literature.
It’s undeniable that Bishop was once voted the Senate’s most liberal Republican, just as it’s undeniable he was voted the most conservative in another year. But language that Bishop “betrayed taxpayers” is a characterization that goes beyond the reality of how legislative work gets done.
|Who:||Mike Bishop for Congress||What:||"Scorecard" on candidate's website||The Call:||Regular Foul|
McMillin “voted against a law that requires any nursing home employee who becomes aware of patient mistreatment … to report it” and “has worked with the ACLU to attack local law enforcement.”
The scorecard lays out differences between Bishop and his primary opponent, Tom McMillin. Truth Squad focuses on two of the claims.
The claim that McMillin voted against a law requiring nursing home employees to report cases of patient abuse is based on House Bill 5191 of 2009. McMillin, serving then as he does now in the Michigan House of Representatives, did vote against the bill. McMillin told Truth Squad he felt the bill put employees in an untenable position of choosing to report rumors, or facing possible criminal charges if they don’t.
The scorecard is incorrect, however, in stating that Bishop voted for the bill; the House passed the bill and sent it to the Senate, but the bill never received a committee or floor vote, according to the Michigan Legislature's website.
The Scorecard also claims that McMillin “has worked with the ACLU to attack local law enforcement and create more government bureaucracy.” McMillin, usually associated with the tea party, has an unusual alliance with the American Civil Liberties Union on several issues. McMillin and the ACLU have similar positions in support of providing impoverished defendants with an adequate criminal defense lawyer, and criticizing the government on privacy issues, such as the use of drones and cell phone monitoring by authorities. To say that McMillin has attacked local law enforcement is not supported by the record.
|The call:||Regular foul|
Bishop’s political scorecard on his Mike Bishop for Congress website states that Bishop voted for a bill he did not vote on, and fails to substantiate the claim that McMillin has in any way “attacked local law enforcement.”