Nov 16, 2010
Lobbyists will have major role in Snyder Administration
For all the rhetoric about reinventing Michigan and that it won’t be politics as usual in Michigan with the election of Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder as Michigan Governor, his choices for key positions in his administration are signaling that it is politics as usual and that lobbyists will have an increased role.
He has turned the clock back 8-20 years with even more appointments of former staffers from the Engler Administration and lobbyists. On Monday he announced that former Engler staffers Michael Gadola would be his legal counsel and Geralyn Lasher his communications director. Lasher served as deputy press secretary and Gadola deputy legal counsel and director of the Office of Regulatory Reform under Engler.
The Outsourcer has shown an early preference for lobbyists, and he appointed one of the most tenured and powerful Lansing lobbyists as his Chief-of-Staff, Dennis Muchmore. That position is arguably the most important post in any administration because they control access to the Outsourcer.
Muchmore is the founder of the multi-client lobbying firm of Muchmore, Harrington, Smalley and Associates. He was also the former Executive Director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
So far, all six of Snyder's major appointments have ties to Engler or are experienced Lansing hands. In addition to the three appointed yesterday, Snyder also has named House Speaker Andy Dillon D-Redford, as treasurer, former Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus as a senior adviser on legislative affairs and Bill Rustem, president and CEO of the think tank and lobbying firm Public Sector Consultants, as director of strategy. Only the appointment of Blue Dog Democrat Dillon is an out of the box pick.
This comes on the heels of a report by the Associated Press (AP) that lobbyists will have more sway in Lansing; something that has been on the rise since term limits.
According to the AP, “lobbyists could play a bigger role next year as an especially large class of freshmen lawmakers and a governor-elect with little previous political experience take office.” It also reported the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network says Michigan lobbyists reported spending $17.8 million on public officials' meals, travel, lodging, gifts and tickets to events the first seven months of 2010. Last year, lobbyists spent at least $32.1 million. Secretary of state Figures show the state had 2,783 registered lobbyists last year, 500 more than in 1999.
Ironically, one of the first encounters the Outsourcer had with the so-called bipartisan Freshman Caucus last week was sponsored by lobbyists. The event was held at the lobbying firm of Karoub Associates and sponsored by the Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge and Nora Moroun, wife of bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun. The bridge company has had a very large presence in Lansing the past year as they fight to keep their monopoly on the aging 84-year-old bridge; the busiest international border crossing in North America.