“Wealthy businessman” Kevin Rinke – who sports a $39,000 watch on the trail (in addition to his $20,000 one) – detailed his out-of-touch, radical agenda in a profile with MLive and in a new misleading TV ad today.
Predictably, the financial disclosure dodging used Toyota salesman once again passed up the opportunity to shed light on his “unrealistic,” “vague” budget plan that would slash $12 billion from critical services like law enforcement, public schools, and infrastructure.
The out-of-touch millionaire broadcast his plan to slash funding for critical services in a new ad this week. After giving the wealthy “the largest dollar-over-dollar benefit,” Rinke’s plan is estimated to force the following dramatic changes to Michigan’s budget:
- Cut nearly $8 billion from the general fund, threatening funding for thousands of Michigan State Police and slashing nearly two-thirds from the main funding stream for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Corrections, and State Police, on top of half of all revenue for other critical departments .
- Slash $3.5 billion from the School Aid Fund, the state’s main funding source for public schools in line with their similarly disastrous agenda to convert Michigan to a school voucher system that would have reduced state investment in education by upwards of $500 million annually.
- Eliminate $600 million in transportation funding and threaten additional federal funds secured with matching state dollars, which would undercut the state’s ability to keep making crucial repairs to roads and bridges.
Rinke was noted for “trying to have it both ways” on the two issues that have defined his bid for the governor’s office. He broadcast an ad propping up unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, but then “couched the ad as “tongue-in-cheek.” He continues to tout his business background while attempting to downplay the extensive allegations of “lewd and racist comments” he made to his own employees.
MLive: Kevin Rinke Thinks Business Smarts and a Huge Tax Cut Set Him Apart in Governor’s Race
By Simon Schuster
Facts: [Kevin] Rinke is a wealthy businessman new to politics. […]
Last year, Michigan’s 4.25% individual income tax provided $12 billion, almost 30% of the state’s funding, and the single largest source of Michigan’s revenue for the state budget. One year after entering office, Rinke has promised, the tax will be completely eliminated.
His counterparts, some of whom have voiced support for gradually reducing the income tax, contend that’s unrealistic. A slow reduction, Rinke said in a recent debate, would mean a “slow death” for Michigan. […]
Whether Rinke would make up the huge budget shortfall by downsizing government or bringing in more revenue with other taxes, Rinke said it’d be a “combination of both.” Beyond that details are vague. […]
He also focuses on education and says in the public school system, students should be treated like customers serviced by the schools. He railed against Michigan’s low literacy rates, but doesn’t get into specifics about what he’d like to see change in how schools are funded.
Rinke has hired experienced campaign staff well-attuned to the whims of voters, and in some respects is trying to have it both ways.
He is the only candidate that doesn’t believe there was outcome-altering fraud in the 2020 election and recognizes Joe Biden as the legitimate president. But he’s also the only candidate who ran a campaign ad about election fraud — standing next to a zombie, he asks “why is it that dead people always vote Democrat?” — and “free and fair elections” first in his statement of principles on his campaign website.
Rinke couched the ad as “tongue-in-cheek,” a difficult explanation given the swaths of Republican voters that have embraced unfounded conspiracy theory that widespread fraud changed the 2020 election. […]
[Tudor Dixon]’s overtly courted the endorsement of former president Donald Trump, while Rinke has not. Instead he’s running ads saying “President Trump doesn’t back down — neither will conservative businessman Kevin Rinke.” Rinke’s campaign also created an unaired ad attacking Dixon, claiming she will “say anything to win President Trump’s support then betray him when it matters most.” Dixon’s campaign responded with attorneys threatening to sue over an alleged falsehood in the ad. […]
Rinke’s father ran a dealership which after World War II grew to eventually carry every brand under the General Motors umbrella, Rinke said
Rinke hadn’t planned on assuming the family business, but his brother’s death in a 1988 plane crash — a decisive moment in Rinke’s life that still moves him to mention — led him to change paths, eventually buying the dealerships from his father.
1992 lawsuits against Rinke have come up in the election, alleging Rinke made lewd and racist comments to employees at the dealership, creating a hostile work environment.
Rinke said one of the suits was settled out-of-court after more than three years at the plaintiffs’ request. Each former employee received $5,000. […]
The business grew considerably under his watch, incorporating a Toyota dealership and another brands. When he sold Rinke Automotive Group in 2000 to billionaire Roger Penske’s conglomerate the purchase price wasn’t disclosed, Crain’s Detroit Business reported, but wrote the dealerships had about $225 million in revenue. Rinke stayed on, continuing to oversee the dealerships, before switching before working at another corporate dealership chain.
He later bought a traumatic brain injury rehabilitation Cassell & Associates, and grew that business before selling it to another firm. That sold for $24.3 million, according to federal records.
This has predictably made Rinke very wealthy. He frequently wears a gold watch on the campaign trail, a gift from his wife for his 60th birthday, and professes to knows little about it. In our interview it’s partially hidden by Rinke’s monogrammed cuff. The timepiece, from the ultraluxe Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe, retails for about $39,000.
He’s pledged to spend $10 million of his own money on the race, and advertising totals from the firm AdImpact provided by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network indicate he’s well on the way. On broadcast advertising alone he’s dropped $4.2 million, far more than any candidate still running. Candidates haven’t had disclose any campaign finances yet in 2022.
This brings up a question about economic inequality. The disparity between the top 1% of earners and the rest of the population in Michigan is at its highest since the late 1920s. Does he think something should be done to address that widening gap?
“The fact that I choose to drive one car while somebody drives another is purely divisive,” he said. “We have choices.”
His commitment is to “help people in the state of Michigan have a better life. I do that by creating an economic environment that provides them opportunity, not equal outcome.”