- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Campaign committees for Democrats and Republicans in the Michigan House were the biggest direct donors in state-level elections in 2014, according to a new analysis from the Center for Public Integrity.

The Washington-based group’s analysis doesn’t count direct spending on a race - for example, money used to buy a TV ad sponsored by the Republican Governors Association. Rather, the study looks at donations to candidates and groups who then use that money for such spending.

Some late campaign or postelection contributions also weren’t included in the analysis.

Here’s a look at the top five donors:



The campaign arm for House Democrats spent $2.9 million only to lose four seats, seeing the GOP majority rise from 59-50 to 63-47 (with one Democrat-turned-independent) in what was a good year for Republicans.



House Republicans’ election operation spent $2.3 million, $600,000 less than its Democratic counterpart - though the figure doesn’t include individual candidates’ spending. A separate tally last month by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network found that overall spending on all 110 House races was at least $24.4 million, with 12 seats consuming 39 percent of spending. In the dozen most expensive races, Republicans won nine and lost three.



Senate Republicans’ political arm spent $2.1 million, and the GOP’s supermajority increased by one seat, to 27-11. Just five seats accounted for 39 percent of at least $18 million in overall spending on 38 Senate races, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.



The UAW union spent $2 million, according to the analysis. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network said the union raised $2.9 million in the 2013-2014 election cycle as of Oct. 20 - the fourth-most of any political action committee. The UAW PAC gave $1.1 million to the state Democratic Party in September and October, according to reports filed with the state Bureau of Elections.



Richard Bernstein, a blind lawyer who worked at his family’s personal-injury firm, spent $1.8 million of his own money and won a seat on the state Supreme Court. Rich Robinson of the Campaign Finance Network, which checks ad spending at stations, said there was nearly $4.7 million spent on the race in unreported, unregulated TV ads - all from the state Republican Party and the Center for Individual Freedom in Alexandria, Virginia.



To determine the top five Michigan spenders, the Center for Public Integrity didn’t include donors to national groups such as the Republican Governors Association or the Democratic Governors Association. According to Robinson, the $61 million governor’s race between incumbent Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer had a combined $25 million in independent advertising by the RGA and DGA. Other independent advertisers included former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PAC, the state GOP and the National Education Association. The ads aren’t considered to be campaign expenditures under Michigan law, so the spending is mostly unreported, as are the donors.


Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00

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