Special interests are the backbone of DeVos sellout Tudor Dixon’s campaign. New reporting from MLive uncovered the extent of that influence. Cited as the “most important” event of her primary campaign, a “policy forum” was orchestrated for the sole purpose of capturing footage for Michigan Families United, one of the many PACs touting her wrong-for-Michigan agenda.
Primarily bankrolled by the DeVos family – the “kingmakers in Michigan politics” – and other “deep-pocketed donors” Michigan Families United spent “more than $2.5 million” on the airwaves ahead of the primary. This outpaces Dixon’s own advertising spending 20 times over and even surpasses what she raised for her campaign in total.
Since the latest financial report, one PAC put five figures on the radio, another threw in $100,000, a different one “reserved $103,000 worth of airtime,” and Susan B. Anthony List announced they would be parachuting in six figures. That is on top of the $200,000 the anti-choice group had spent in-state previously. The avalanche of special interest influence only managed to net her 40% of the vote.
MLive: Super PAC Backing Tudor Dixon Hides its Origins Despite Disclosing Donors
By Simon Schuster
On May 22, in a small ballroom at a Marriott hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, Tudor Dixon attended one of the most important events of her primary campaign.
She made a freewheeling speech in front of a small audience and a film crew. That footage became the basis for political ads that the event’s super PAC host, Michigan Families United, would spend more than $2.5 million to air before the primary, according to ad tracking totals provided by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
The super PAC spent more than Dixon’s campaign raised in total and more than 20 times what her campaign spent on advertising, but who’s behind Michigan Families United remains shrouded in secrecy. Three prominent speakers at the policy forum said in interviews they know nothing about the organization.
A spokesperson for Dixon’s campaign, Kyle Olson, declined to comment when asked about the forum or who invited Dixon.
“Questions on MFU events should be directed to MFU,” he said in a statement. Michigan Families United didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
While campaigns have restrictions on who can donate to them and how much they give, super PACs have neither, making them particularly powerful for efforts backed by a small number of deep-pocketed donors. Those donors are often hidden as dark money, but the supporters of Michigan Families United have been disclosed. West Michigan’s billionaire DeVos family gave $1 million from, along with about 30 donations from a who’s who of major conservative donors in state and federal politics.
Still, the actual individuals behind Michigan Families United appear to be intentionally hidden. The PAC’s contact person in Michigan is Judith Sallador, an artist from Detroit with no political experience who ran to be a Republican party precinct delegate in the August primary. The PAC’s treasurer is an out-of-state firm, the Crosby Ottenhoff Group, which has consulted for numerous nationally prominent Republican PACs. Neither returned repeated requests for an interview.
Jimmy Greene, the president of Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, acted as emcee at the event and introduced Dixon. He said Michigan Families United’s organization are a mystery to him, too.
“I wish I did know,” he said. “I really, truly don’t know who is behind the mask.” […]
Greene said he recognized no one at the event other than Dixon, her staff, and the legislators he had invited, indicating the event had been centered around getting footage of Dixon.
“There wasn’t anybody there who seemed like they were in control of anything other than the camera crew, who basically directed everything,” he said. “You know, ‘you go here, you go there, you do that, you step up here’ — they were orchestrating the entire event.”
Campaign finance disclosures show Michigan Families United paid a firm called Event Strategies, Inc. nearly $19,000 about a month after the forum. Footage from the day shows Dixon speaking at a podium, striking poses with her husband and four children on stage and later being interviewed alone in what appears to be a hotel room. Greene said Dixon and her family were there before, during and after the event. […]
Other speakers at the event had strikingly little knowledge of how they wound up there. […]
Greene hadn’t been aware the PAC’s origins were obscured. He said it surprised him.
“Who would hide that?” he said. “Attack ads, for example, I can see why people hide behind that, but this is a really good message. It’s out there about family values. I mean, they’re her core beliefs. I don’t know why you want to hide them.”