Here's who is funding the battle over redistricting in Michigan

Posted at 1:24 PM, Oct 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 18:05:35-04

The battle over redistricting in Michigan between two groups was settled in the court, but ahead of the election, both Voters Not Politicians and Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution are still raising big bucks over gerrymandering.

VNP, which is the group behind Proposal 2, looks to create an independent commission to draw congressional lines. Currently, the controlling party in the Michigan legislature draws the lines every 10 years. CPMC fought VNP to the Michigan Supreme Court, claiming it changed the state constitution too much and would require a constitutional convention, not a ballot proposal. 

In July, Michigan's highest court ruled 4-3 in favor of Voters Not Politicians, allowing their proposal to be on the ballot in November.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, VNP has raised $1.67 million through July 20, 2018, with more than 16,000 contributions coming from individual donors. On the other hand, CPMC has raised $392,351, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Of those numbers, seven contributions have come from individuals.

Records from the Michigan Secretary of State show that 16,093 donations have been less than $500. The battle has peaked the interest of national groups, with several political action committees making large contributions. 

Action Now Initiative, based in Houston Texas, has donated more than $260,000 to Voters Not Politicians. That includes a $250,000 donation on July 20 and two in-kind donations of $3,000 each in June for consulting services. Action Now Initiative was started by billionaires John & Laura Arnold and works to advocate for several policy changes in states across the U.S.

A group led by former Attorney General Eric Holder also made a massive investment in VNP. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee said in September it would donate $250,000 to Voters Not Politicians, and said Michigan is one of the NDRC's "electoral targets" for 2018.

“In Michigan, the current electoral system is unfair and is so rigged that politicians can now pick their voters, instead of allowing citizens to choose their representatives. Our governments are not supposed to work this way. This partisan gerrymandering leads to dysfunction, polarization, and the legitimate belief held by average Americans that, for them, our political system just does not work," Holder said in a statement. 

On Twitter, Holder added that they are only asking for fairness and not partisan advantage in redistricting.

Other major donors to VNP include the Beckwith Constitutional Liberties Fund in East Lansing which donated $15,000, the Michigan UAW CAP Council which donated $100,000 and the Campaign for Democracy PAC, which is based in San Francisco and donated $72,605.

Several other groups, including the ACLU, donated tens of thousands of dollars in in-kind contributions for the drafting of the petition.

On the other side, CPMC has received donations from several major groups in the state. The largest comes from the Michigan Chamber PAC II, which is connected to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. In all, it has donated $136,260 to the group. John Kennedy, the CEO of Autocam Corporation, donated $100,000 in March to CPMC.

The fourth-largest donation to CPMC since 2017 came from a group called Fair Lines America, based in Alexandria, Va. The donation, on April 16, came just nine days before CPMC filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Secretary of State over the ballot proposal.

According to their website, Fair Lines America is a nonprofit and non-partisan organization that "supports fair and legal redistricting through comprehensive data gathering, procession, and deployment; dissemination of relevant news and information; and strategic investments in redistricting-related reforms and litigation."

To read more about the battle over gerrymandering in Michigan, click here, here and here.