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Irony-free Jase Bolger decries hypocrisy that doesn't actually exist

by: Eric B.

Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 13:13:23 PM EST

A couple months ago, it was noted that Progress Michigan was not only well within its rights to criticize the NERD Fund, but that it was criticized uniquely in the media for doing so without disclosing its donors. The Michigan Campaign Finance Network does this all the time and no one complains.

In fact, just yesterday Rich Robinson, the MCFN's executive director, wrote an Op-Ed for the Freep in which he called Arlen Meekhoff's Incumbent Defense Act, which would flood politics with more special interest money and shield the anonymity of donors to sleazy attack ads called "issues" ads (like the one that called Mary Bridget McCormack a terrorist-sypathizing scumbag because she thinks people accused of crimes deserve a defense), a defining moment at which we'll either move towards greater transparency or a system given over entirely to money.

Now, none of this is even remotely controversial. Rich Robinson is basically the Eagle Scout of Michigan politics. He's Richie Cunningham in a Hill Street Blues world. No one cares where his organization gets its money because the entire enterprise is built around making politics apolitically better.

Until now...

LANSING – Speaker of the House Jase Bolger today called on the Michigan Campaign Finance Network to put its money source where its mouth is or quietly enjoy its constitutional freedoms.

"The simple truth is that the executive director of MCFN, Rich Robinson, makes a living exercising his political free speech while demanding limits on other people’s ability to do so,” said Bolger, R-Marshall. “I believe that’s commonly referred to as ‘do as I say, not as I do.’”

Bolger issued his challenge in response to a column by Rich Robinson in the Detroit Free Press today that left out key facts regarding campaign finance reform bills approved by the Legislature this week. Bolger said it was important to note the difference between campaign contributions and Issue Advocacy advertising. The Legislature increased disclosure requirements of donations to political candidates. Issue Advocacy ads are those that do not call for the election nor defeat of a candidate; individual donors to the organizations placing those types of ads will remain unknown.

This doesn't exist on the Web, it was sent to Ari Adler's press list, so I can't link to it. But, you do have to admire the balls on the House Speaker for saying anything in the first place, much less issue a statement that says that if Rich Robinson doesn't want to share who pays his salary he should just shut the fuck up. I mean, this is the guy who tried to help rig a state House race and then blamed Democrats when he got caught. I'm not sure anyone needs a lecture on him about how to comport yourself in the public sphere.

The rebuttal goes on for a few more paragraphs, trying to actually make the case that somehow doubling campaign contribution limits and enshrining dark money is good and calling Robinson a hypocrite because the MCFN is an actual social welfare organization dedicated to transparency in public policy making and Robinson is doing his job. The thing about calling someone a hypocrite is this: It helps if the person who you are calling a hypocrite is, in fact, guilty of hypocrisy. Perhaps in some alternate universe there is a Rich Robinson who is Speaker of some alternate state House of Representatives, but in this universe that isn't the case. Rich Robinson is the head of a private social welfare organization who has no authority to pass laws is ways that might open him up to influence peddling in exchange for campaign contributions. There is no hypocrisy at work here.

It's pretty obvious reading the entire thing that the point is to blur the lines and make people think that all money in politics is the same. It's dumb, but it was first enabled by the criticism aimed at Progress Michigan over the NERD fund, and you have to wonder if that was aided to no small degree by a petty vindictiveness, for which Bolger has a reputation, over Robinson's pretty strong words about the Roy Schmidt scandal.

Update! ... I was looking for a way to share this editorial from the other day. It's the Freep, calling Jase Bolger and Randy Richardville a couple of hypocrites for insisting that the Court of Claims had to be moved into the Appeals Court because it better represented the people less than a month after approving the rape insurance rider.

Eric B. :: Irony-free Jase Bolger decries hypocrisy that doesn't actually exist
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