MICHIGAN TRUTH SQUAD ANALYSIS: League of Responsible Voters
Who: Michigan League of Responsible Voters
What: Website and mailer
Truth Squad call: Foul
This is the time, during election season, when groups from across the political spectrum try to break through the cacophony of competing voices by offering “vote this way” guides. One, from the Michigan League of Responsible Voters, caught the Truth Squad’s eye.
The mailer (see here, here, here, here) makes recommendations for voting on five ballot proposals voters will face Nov. 6. But aren’t there six ballot proposals? Therein lies a clue to just who the Michigan League of Responsible Voters is.
Branded with stars, stripes and an eagle, the League introduces itself with this:
“Because it can be difficult to obtain reliable, no-nonsense information about the ballot proposals, we have provided this concise Voter Guide. We want to help you get to the heart of the matter and get the facts you need to make an informed choice this November.”
Each of the ballot questions on the mailer is accompanied by a list of organizations that support and oppose it. But you have to dig into the group’s website to get a sense of where they’re coming from. the League of Responsible Voters is an amalgamation of labor, environmental and generally progressive and social-justice groups, and their recommendations reflect that – they advise voting against Proposal 1, the referendum on the emergency-manager law, and yes on 2, 3 and 4 (collective bargaining, renewable energy and home health-care aides). Proposal 5, which would require supermajorities for tax increases), gets a No recommendation.
As for Proposal 6, which would require a statewide popular vote before any new international bridges or tunnels could be built? The League of Responsible Voters is silent. Given recent publicity on splits within organized labor over that one, it’s perhaps no surprise.
The League, as of last week, had raised almost $261,000.
The largest donor was the National Education Association in Washington, D.C, (at $120,000), followed by the United Auto Workers ($101,000) and the Michigan Education Association ($40,000).
The League’s two largest expenditures were $98,000 to a California-based mail services firm and $48,000 to Progress Michigan in Lansing for “administration.”
Foul or no foul: Foul. Creating a group with a generic name to advance political causes is neither a new trick nor a partisan one. Still, the format of this mailer would leave the voter with the impression that the League is a disinterested agency and, therefore, the ability to speak apart from the partisan argument. It’s not, though, as its campaign filings show.