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Wednesday, April 14,2010

Virg Watch

Donor lists and labor disputes: Dillon v. Bernero continues

by Neal McNamara
Virg Bernero and Andy Dillon continued to beat on each other this past week, this time not on health care, but on campaign donors and labor.

On Friday, Bernero’s campaign released a list of attendees to a fundraiser thrown for him by state Commissioner of the Office of Insurance and Financial Regulation Ken Ross (the same guy that signed off on a deal in a few years back to let Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, the parent company of the Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America, buy an out-of-state subsidiary) and his partner and real estate magnate, Brian Huggler.

Dillon had insinuated that because Ross was throwing the fundraiser, the people he regulates would feel forced to donate to Bernero.

Out of 157 people invited, 11 showed up, plus Bernero’s wife, Teri, Huggler and Ross. The attendees including Lansing School Board President Jack Davis, Neil Kuhnmuench, director of the lobbying firm Governmental Consulting Services Inc., the PAC of which has donated to Bernero’s mayoral campaign; Jack Finn, director of the state’s Wage and Hour Division; Kelly Keenan, a lobbyist and owner of Keenan Consulting LLC in Lansing; Cynthia Williams, an East Lansing-based lobbyist; Phillip Churchill, an attorney; Dr. Majid Katranji; Hala Taifour; Gary August, an attorney, and Paul Novack, also an attorney.

After Bernero’s campaign spokesman, Jamaine Dickens, sent out the list, we asked if Dickens if he would also release the amounts donated to Bernero at the fundraiser.

He said, “Unable to do that anytime soon.”

(The earliest we members of the public can find out whose money is influencing which candidate is July, when campaign finance statements are due.)

The fighting between Dillon and Bernero continued Wednesday. Patrick “Shorty” Gleason, president of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, which has endorsed Dillon, sent out a press release “blasting” Bernero for holding a meeting at the downtown Lansing restaurant, Troppo: Gleason says the place was built with non-union labor, and called it the “height of hypocrisy” for Bernero to use the building.

The bickering was not lost on Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-Ypsilanti, who sent out a press release on Tuesday scolding Dillon and Bernero over their donor list contest.

In other Virg news, last Friday the mayor went on a one-day bus tour of college campuses across Michigan. He stopped at Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo College, Wayne State University in Detroit, and the University of Michigan.

According to the Royal Oak Daily Tribune, Bernero is scheduled to appear on Thursday at a gubernatorial forum in St. Clair Shores.

Bernero will also be at a gubernatorial forum Sunday at Cobo Hall in Detroit hosted by the Michigan Democratic Party. On April 27, the “Ingham County Elected Officials for Virg” will host a fundraiser at an Anglo-Irish theme bar in East Lansing. Those Ingham elected officials for Virg include Treasurer Eric Schertzing, County Clerk Mike Bryanton, Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr., Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth, County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III, and Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann. Cost: $100 per person.

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