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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Meekhof Stands Alone Opposing More Transparency In Lansing: 3 Scandals He May Be Covering Up



By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com)


Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof seems to be the only politician in Lansing who is unwilling to change the law to allow the public and media more access to documents from the Legislature and Governor's office.


The House passed legislation unanimously without any "no" votes, and not a single State Senator appears to be on record opposing the reforms.


So #WhatIsArlanHiding? Here are 3 scandals Meekhof could be trying to keep under wraps by preventing public scrutiny of his office's activities.


1. An Affair


Back in January 2016, WMP reported on a hot rumor making its way around Lansing: one of Michigan's highest ranking officials was having an affair with a state employee.


 I found a lot of circumstantial evidence, but not enough to comfortably come out and "name names" with the certitude required in such a sensitive situation.


Despite the fact WMP did not name the politician-and multiple other affair rumors are abound in Lansing-within minutes after that article, I received a bizarre and threatening email from Steven Linder, a Lansing power broker who happens to be one of Arlan Meekhof's top political operatives.


"If you accuse someone of adultery or an affair or other personal issues based on innuendo, rumor, and hearsay it will certainly subject you to libel, slander, and defamation actions," Linder said. "If I were you I would think very carefully about printing salacious stories designed to do nothing but besmirch a public official and/or other citizens character. It will not go unchallenged."


A threatening email within minutes of the affair article? Interesting... One can draw their own conclusions, but it doesn't look good...


Who is Steven Linder? According to BallotPedia:


"In 1992, Linder founded Linder & Associates, the "first ever multi-client fundraising consulting business in Michigan." He joined The Sterling Corporation, a Republican communications company in Lansing, Mich., in 2003. Linder directs fundraising efforts for the firm's clients.


In 2013, Campaigns & Elections named Linder a top Republican Party influencer in Michigan.


Lambert, Edwards & Associates (LE&A), a Michigan public relations firm, acquired The Sterling Corporation in April 2014. Linder remained the managing partner of The Sterling Corporation division of LE&A after the acquisition."


Linder is the man behind managing Arlan Meekhof's controversial and convoluted series of political organizations. Sterling employees-and even Linder himself-appear throughout Meekhof's campaign finance paperwork throughout the years.

Recent documents uncovered by WMP also show Linder is involved in Meekhof's shady non-profit, the "West Michigan Community Preservation Fund."





2. West Michigan Community Preservation Fund


Arlan's version of the Clinton Foundation, he uses this account to launder himself money, over $100,000 in the last few years.


A WMP investigation reveals Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof operates a shady-and possibly illegal- 501(c)(4) as part of a complex and questionable money laundering scheme designed to line his pockets.

The 501(c)(4) is called the "West Michigan Community Preservation Fund," but the only thing the group seems to be preserving is Arlan's pocketbook, helping the Senate Majority leader profit over $100,000 since 2014...


One expert believes Meekhof may have violated the law.

"The West Michigan Community Preservation Fund is an IRS 501(c)(4) tax exempt entity which he uses to launder money. These 501(c)(4) entities have only a limited ability to engage in politics under IRS rules and Meekhof has clearly breached those IRS rules.

A 501(c)(4) organization may directly or indirectly support or oppose a candidate for public office as long as such activities are not a substantial amount of its activities. Look at how much money West Michigan Community Preservation Fund is dumping into his political funds."

>>>Meekhof is using the West Michigan Community Preservation Fund along with his "Meekhof Administrative Account" to pay himself large amounts of money. 

According to IRS documents, Meekhof has pocketed over $100,000 for himself in the last 3 years... $60,000 was funneled in during that time by West Michigan Community Preservation Fund, the 501(C)(4) with the secret donors...

A WMP analysis shows Meekhof pocketed:


$13,178 from April 1st of 2016 until July 1, 2016.

-$16,401 from January 1-April 1, 2016

-$21,221 from July 1 2015-December 31, 2015 

-$24,787 from January 1 2015- June 30, 2015 

-In 2014, he pocketed over $30,000.... 

The money is allegedly for things like food, mileage reimbursement, and travel costs...

Over $100,000, all while also likely bilking state taxpayers for similar costs through his expense account, which is largely shielded from public view because of laws designed to protect corrupt Lansing elites like Arlan....The same law he refuses to amend so we can open up the books for public view!

But wait, there's more! The President of the "West Michigan Community Preservation Fund" just happens to be... Meekhof's former Chief of Staff, Bob DeVries! 

DeVries just happened to use the Meekhof Administrative Account referenced above to pay himself nearly $8,000 over the same period Meekhof pocketed over $100,000... His cousin Jason also received money, nearly $1,000...

WMP has also obtained the document Arlan's non-profit was required to file with the State of Michigan when they incorporated, and the contents are shocking. 

In it, Meekhof's group actually claims that the money from the group will be used to help poor people who are uninsured and underinsured! 

They will also help facilitate "educational experiences" to "support democracy," the document claims...




>>>Below, View EVERY Check Meekhof Received:















































3. Shady donations/deals


It's no secret Arlan serves the special interests and big donors over the people of Ottawa County and Michiganders across the state, would the right reporter be able to uncover a smoking gun on a shady deal if records were released???


What do you think is the issue? #WhatIsArlanHiding?


 __________________________________________________________________

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com
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Foreign Based Nestle Cashes In Off Michigan Water, Taking Billions Of Gallons For Just $200/Year



By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com)


A large, foreign corporation has been taking billions of gallons of Michigan water for years and selling it for a considerable profit while paying the state almost nothing.

Nestle, a Switzerland based company, pays the state $200 a year and in return takes hundreds of millions of gallons of our water annually, 3.5 billion gallons between 2005-2015.

According to Garret Ellison of MLive:


"To say that Michigan is an ideal state in which to operate a bottled water factory is something of an understatement.
Nestle Waters North America, the world's largest bottled water company, shipped the first bottle from its Ice Mountain plant in Stanwood in May 2002. Since then, the company has extracted billions of gallons of groundwater from underneath Michigan and has paid next to nothing for it.
Michigan, a water-rich state surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, charges high-volume, self-supplied water bottlers like Nestle and Absopure only $200 per year in paperwork fees to operate. There's no state tax, license fee or royalty associated with the company's extraction of a precious natural resource.
That has not exactly sat well with many Michiganders after it was revealed this fall that the Department of Environmental Quality was ready to sign off on a 167-percent capacity increase on a high-volume well Nestle owns in Osceola County.
The DEQ has since received about 14,000 comments on the Nestle request. Most of them oppose the increased water extraction and a good portion of the debate has involved talk of ending Nestle's free ride and requiring some compensation -- all against the backdrop of the water crisis in Flint, where Michigan is currently fighting in court against the expense of delivering safe water door-to-door.
"The juxtaposition is pretty stark," said Liz Kirkwood, director of the Traverse City nonprofit environmental advocacy group FLOW (For Love of Water).
"It's ironic that the state of Michigan won't pay for bottled water and 100 miles away they are giving away Pure Michigan water for $200 a year at the wellhead."
_____________________________________________________________________
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com
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DeVos Or Huizenga Should Lead The Fight For Half A Million Americans At Risk Of Falling Victim To Broken Government Student Loan Promise



By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com)


I was immensely disturbed by a story I recently heard on the Dave Ramsey Show regarding the federal government breaking its promise to nearly half a million Americans who agreed to work public service jobs (for 10 YEARS!) in exchange for student loan forgiveness...


Ramsey started by quoting this New York Times article:


"More than 550,000 people have signed up for a federal program that promises to repay their remaining student loans after they work 10 years in a public service job.

But now, some of those workers are left to wonder if the government will hold up its end of the bargain — or leave them stuck with thousands of dollars in debt that they thought would be eliminated.

In a legal filing submitted last week, the Education Department suggested that borrowers could not rely on the program’s administrator to say accurately whether they qualify for debt forgiveness. The thousands of approval letters that have been sent by the administrator, FedLoan Servicing, are not binding and can be rescinded at any time, the agency said.

The filing adds to questions and concerns about the program just as the first potential beneficiaries reach the end of their 10-year commitment — and the clocks start ticking on the remainder of their debts."

Ramsey subsequently  hit the nail on his head in his analysis of the situation:


"Only the federal government could be this incompetent," Ramsey said.


"Congress, if you guys don't put your little hands together... and pass a law to smack your Education Department in the mouth...and say, the administrator you hired-you have to stand behind what they said-that's just basic integrity...I can't believe this makes the New York Times and Congress doesn't already have a bill on the floor.... this is something Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on, that the federal government shouldn't lie to someone for freaking 10 years and then go, 'haha just kidding! You still owe them money, gotya! You get to start again, welcome to the student loan lottery!'


Ramsey continued:


"If the administrator hired by the Federal Governemnt says you're out of student loan debt after 10 years, you should be out. It was a stupid plan to begin with and you shouldn't have been in the stupid plan... but if you're stupid enough to get in the stupid plan... the idiots at the federal government-there's a lot of stupid in this whole thing right here- they should be made to abide by the ruling of their administrator."


This is absolutely unacceptable. 


It wasn't right when Gov. Granholm yanked the "Michigan Promise" scholarship from thousands of Michigan students in the middle of the 2009/2010 school year, and it's not right now with these student loans.

West Michigan has 2 very prominent residents who are well positioned to do something about this, Congressman Bill Huizenga, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Anyone in the Congressional delegation would do though, perhaps freshman Rep. Paul Mitchell? Rep. Amash?


It's time to act-hopefully someone will step up to the plate.


Watch the segment below: 



_____________________________________________________________________
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at WestMIPolitics@Gmail.com
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

YUGE: Trump Deportations Could Prevent Michigan From Losing An Electoral Vote (And Member Of Congress)

President Trump


By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)


Michigan is likely to lose an electoral vote and therefore a member of our Congressional delegation in 2022 during redistricting after the 2020 census. However, President Trump just might have something to say about that...

According to MIRS:

"It's presumed Michigan will lose a congressional seat. That could change if Michigan's population picks up in a big way or if a significant number of illegal immigrants are removed from the United States, which would significantly lower the population level used to allocate congressional districts."

That's what Ed Sarpolus of Target Insyght believes...

More of his redistricting analysis from MIRS: 

"Ed SARPOLUS of Target Insyght, whose drawn political district maps since the 1980s, told MIRS Monday today if the Republicans retain the Senate and the Governor's office in 2018, they will secure two out of the three positions needed to control the pen in 2020, as they did in 2010. 

And if that is the case, Sarpolus said the easiest seat for them to eliminate is the southern Oakland County/Macomb County district currently represented by U.S. Rep. Sandy LEVIN(D-Royal Oak). U.S. Rep. Mike BISHOP's 8th Congressional District would wrap around Oakland County and pick up much of Levin's district, including the senior House member's Royal Oak home. 

U.S. Rep. Justin AMASH (R-Cascade Twp.) would pick up Ingham County. U.S. Rep. PaulMITCHELL (R-Dryden Twp.) would lose the Thumb to U.S. Rep. Dan KILDEE's (D-Flint Twp.) district while picking up much more of Macomb County. 

U.S. Rep. John MOOLENAAR's (R-Midland) district would become geographically gigantic, stretching from the Lake Michigan shoreline to Bay County on the Lake Huron coastline. 

U.S. Rep. Debbie DINGELL (D-Dearborn) would pick up much more of Washtenaw County. 

Sarpolus was able to preserve the two districts with a majority of a minority population under his potential plan, which takes an otherwise likely federal civil rights lawsuit off the table. 

Amash's district goes from a 44 percent Democratic base to a 47 percent Dem base. Moolenaar's district goes from a 45 percent Dem base to a 47 percent Dem base and Mitchell's goes from 46 to 48 percent base. 

On the other hand, if Democrats take control of the Governor's office, the Senate or the House, they could negotiate to make the 4th, 3rd or 7th congressional district shaped in a way that give a Democrat a real shot, Sarpolus said."





Sarpolus also says that if Dems win in 2018 and draw the redistricting maps, they may try to create a West Michigan district for a Democrat that would include Grand Rapids and Muskegon...

Stay tuned!



 __________________________________________________________________
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Weiser Drains The Swamp: Doster Removed As MIGOP General Counsel, Pero Chosen As Replacement

Weiser, left, Doster, right


By Brandon Hall
(Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)
It's finally happened: after spending years as the Michigan Republican Party's lawyer, surviving Chair after Chair despite controversy after controversy, Eric Doster has been removed by Chairman Ron Weiser.

Doster is the epitome of an establishment insider who has ruthlessly worked against the grassroots behind the scenes. He's also used his position to push horrendous legislation and target conservatives in primaries to benefit his handpicked candidates, among other things...

Doster was recently in the news for his role as the political wingman for controversial Democrat Jim Fouts, Mayor of Warren...

Doster's replacement is Colleen Pero.



Colleen Pero

In addition to her role as the MIGOP's legal adviser, Pero also serves as Weiser's Chief Of Staff.

According to Jonathan Oosting of the Detroit News:

"Pero’s Republican Party credentials span decades. She has worked as national deputy political director for Lamar Alexander during his presidential bid, as executive director for the Michigan Bush-Quayle campaign and in senior positions under Michigan Gov. John Engler and in the Michigan Senate. She began her political work with the House Republican Campaign committee.

Pero, an attorney, also is the former chair of the State Board of Canvassers, where she recently proposed the conditional suspension of a recount of the Nov. 8 presidential election sparked by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

She also was the deputy director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights."



Drolet Vs. Doster: MIGOP Attorney Does Controversial Dem Mayor's Dirty Work




Read more here:

The Curious Case Of SB 571: Controversial MIGOP Lawyer Eric Doster Involved In Shady Last Minute Amendment?
http://westmipolitics.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-curious-case-of-sb-571.html

 


 __________________________________________________________________
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com
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Josh Paciorek Named Deputy Press Secretary For Vice President Pence

Josh Paciorek with fiance Sarah Dickinson


By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)

Josh Paciorek (that's Puh-chore-ick :p) has been named as Vice President Mike Pence's new Deputy Press Secretary.

Paciorek previously served as Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Rick Snyder. He was also the digital director for Snyder's re-election campaign in 2014.

Paciorek is a 2014 Michigan State graduate...

 __________________________________________________________________
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com
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Trump Tells Snyder He Remembers His Refusal To Endorse: "I Never Forget"



By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)

President Donald Trump visited Michigan today, giving a speech at Willow Run airport highlighting his "Buy American, Hire American" mantra, as well as his support of the auto industry.

After the speech, the President told Gov. Snyder to join him for a photo even though he didn't endorse him.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao then quipped that Trump hasn't forgotten..."I never forget," Trump responded.



 __________________________________________________________________
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com
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