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Enbridge Bankrolling Opposition to Michigan Redistricting Proposal

Canadian operator of controversial Line 5 oil pipes is top political contributor to group financing lawsuit to keep Voters Not Politicians measure off the November ballot.

The giant Canadian pipeline company that is fighting Michigan citizens who want to end the dangerous flow of oil through the Great Lakes is also funding efforts to block proposed citizen-initiated reforms to legislative redistricting in Michigan, according to campaign finance records with the Michigan Secretary of State.

Read More in the Detroit Free Press

Enbridge Energy Company, Enbridge’s Houston-based United States subsidiary, is the largest financial contributor to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce PAC II ballot election committee, which pumped $135,000 into Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution. That group on April 25 filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State and Board of Canvassers to keep the Voters Not Politicians citizens redistricting initiative from the November ballot.

Enbridge’s financial support for the chamber ballot committee totaled more than $125,000, in corporate funds—by far the largest committee contributions reported to date for the 2018 election, according to Michigan Secretary of State records. Within days of Enbridge’s October, 2017 contribution to the chamber’s committee, the chamber began making large financial contributions to Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, a chamber front group that is suing to block the Voters Not Politicians ballot proposal.

“Whether or not you support any particular Michigan ballot measure, we shouldn’t tolerate the Canadian oil industry meddling in our politics,” said David Holtz, communications coordinator for Oil & Water Don’t Mix. “This is particularly troublesome given Enbridge’s horrific environmental record in Michigan and their failures with Line 5.

“The Michigan Chamber of Commerce should have thought twice before putting Enbridge’s money to work to influence Michigan elections.”

On April 27 the Associated Press reported that the chamber was providing in-kind legal services to the conservative Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, but Enbridge’s involvement through the chamber’s direct financial support have not been previously disclosed.

“Whether or not you support any particular Michigan ballot measure, we shouldn’t tolerate the Canadian oil industry meddling in our politics.” - David Holtz, communications coordinator for Oil & Water Don’t Mix

The Voters Not Politicians ballot committee filed petitions with 425,000 signatures, more than enough to qualify for the ballot. But Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, whose largest financial supporter is the Michigan chamber, on April 26 asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to intervene and prevent voters from deciding on the redistricting proposal.

On Oct. 12, 2017 Enbridge Energy Company contributed $125,000 to the chamber ballot committee, listing their Houston, Texas office as their address. Three days later, on Oct. 9, the chamber gave $35,000 to Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, whose treasurer is chamber vice president James Holcomb. The following February the chamber contributed another $100,000 to the group

Enbridge Energy’s $126,650 total contributions to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce PAC II ballot committee this election dwarf any other contributions this election from a single source. Enbridge’s financial support represents more than half the chamber committee’s total contributions of $242,450 during the 2018 Michigan election cycle.

The timing of Enbridge’s contributions and involvement in Michigan’s elections came just a few months after the Michigan Chamber of Commerce came off the sidelines in the Line 5 debate, supporting Enbridge and describing Line 5 to the news media last July as being “in very good condition.”

The chamber’s support for Enbridge came at a critical time when consultants hired by the state and funded by Enbridge were presenting new Line 5 studies. The chamber says it also opposes ballot proposals related to Line 5 and a part-time Legislature, neither of which is currently active, as well as marijuana legalization.

After Enbridge, Amway corporation’s Stephen Van Andel’s $50,000 contribution to the chamber ballot committee in April was tops, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Michigan Secretary of State.

The chamber ballot committee was formed in 2007 to, among other things, influence Michigan’s last legislative redistricting process in 2010.

Showing 3 reactions

  • Andrea Scott
    followed this page 2018-05-14 16:58:14 -0400
  • Yili Wu
    commented 2018-05-07 23:41:54 -0400
    Robin Hendricks——This is why Enbridge (and their beneficiary, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s PAC) would care about the constitution. When we elect our legislators in Lansing, we elect them from “voting districts” . The MI state constitution currently assigns the power to draw these districts to the legislature. The incumbents in the legislature then manipulate the boundaries to create safe districts for them/their party so they keep getting re-elected (aka “gerrymandering”). Then the politicians don’t have to listen to their voters, just to the special interests and big donors who fund their elections. And these special interests and big donors don’t want to give up their power over the politicians, who make laws in their favor.

    That is why they oppose the ballot proposal by Voters Not Politicians (which submitted over 425,000 signatures from all 83 MI counties, more than enough to get on the ballot). The VNP proposal would amend the MI constitution so that power to draw districts is given to an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC). Several other states already have such a commission. And politicians and lobbyists would be barred from serving on it. Right now, politicians draw the lines behind closed doors, but the ICRC meetings would all be open public meetings, and it has to hold 10 public hearings before any maps are even drafted. The proposal would strengthen our democracy by taking away politicians’ power to draw safe districts for themselves. So of course the Powers that Be don’t want this reform to go on the ballot. But if you want to see politicians made more accountable to their voters, then support Voters Not Politicians. Make a donation to help them fight the lawsuit filed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce’s PAC. Volunteer to canvass and get out the vote. Tell all your friends, in person, and on social media. And vote YES on Nov. 6, 2018 to establish an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. www.votersnotpoliticians.com/donate
  • Robin Hendricks
    commented 2018-05-07 17:01:44 -0400
    How does Michigan’s constitution benefit Enbridge?

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