Groups spending millions on ballot initiatives, filings show

LANSING – A coalition mainly composed of union groups has raised $8.1 million for a ballot initiative to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution, according to a report filed Wednesday.

Protect Our Jobs — which says it is concerned about what it sees as a spate of anti-labor legislation in Michigan and the possibility of a “right to work” law to ban financial support of a union as a condition of employment — has spent about $1.2 million and has about $6.9 million in cash on hand, according to the report.

Spokesman Dan Lijana of the consulting firm Dewey Square in Washington, D.C. said the amount raised from the Michigan Education Association, the United Auto Workers and other organizations demonstrates “the enthusiasm of this campaign.”

He said Protect Our Jobs anticipates fierce and well-funded opposition from business groups. He wouldn’t say how much the group believes it needs to raise to get a “yes” vote for its initiative, assuming it makes the ballot.

In another campaign finance filing Wednesday, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge said they have raised and spent close to $4.7 million on a ballot initiative to require a statewide vote on building a new public span across the Detroit River.

All of the money raised for the “Let the People Decide” bridge ballot initiative came from Detroit International Bridge Co. Holdings, Inc., a Moroun family business. Nearly all of it was paid to Silver Bullet LLC, a signature-gathering company based in Utah, and Smart Media Group LLC, a Virginia-based marketing company, which received $1.1 million.

Gov. Rick Snyder, with the support of most of the state’s business and labor groups, wants to build a new public bridge to Canada he says will create construction jobs, clear a border bottleneck and assure security for Michigan exporters. Moroun has spent millions on TV ads, lobbying and campaign donations opposing the project. Now he wants to amend the Michigan Constitution to create another obstacle the project must clear.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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