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Mike Cox Might Not Be Good for Consumers: How Campaign Contributions Affect Michigan Courts

July 29, 2010

Mike Cox, the Republican gubernatorial candidate for Michigan’s upcoming race (for my readers not from MI), has recently accepted over $12,000.00 in campaign contributions from health care groups, and in a move that could be called practiced coincidentally, or perhaps legal action based on campaign funds, Mike Cox also filed a brief disputing the federal government’s ability to mandate health insurance. Please note that Mike Cox filed a brief that seems to be influenced by campaign donations.

Filing legal decisions that are based on campaign contributions is nothing new to Michigan politicians, attorneys, or judges.  Consider that Michigan’s current Supreme Court justices have been issuing rulings in favor of health care groups, against everyday injured plaintiffs, in the years directly after receiving campaign contributions supporting their campaigns.  Want a list of the decisions?

I am currently working on that, but consider the fact that in 1996, the healthcare groups dumped a ton of money into the Michigan Supreme Court candidates, and in 1997, there were 2 big decisions written by those same justices who received campaign contributions in 1996 in favor of health care groups.  From 1994-2000, health care groups and insurance groups contributed a combined total of $1.5 MILLION to the Michigan Supreme Court Candidates, and have been rewarded with briefs written by the justices in favor of these largest donating groups.  In fact, health care groups and insurance groups made up over 20% of all campaign funding for Michigan Supreme Court candidates from 1994-2000.   And guess what those campaign donations seemed to buy?  You guessed it:  decisions in favor of their industries.

I just think that with this direct line of payments to the court and then decisions in favor of these industries over the last 15 years, we need to really question what Mike Cox’s motives are: why is he pushing back against Obama?  Is this a party-line difference, or are his legal filings directly based upon his campaign contributions?  It certainly works that way with the Michigan Supreme Court, so why wouldn’t it work that way for Mike Cox?

Now that corporations are free to contribute openly to campaigns, one would believe that this kind of information was open for the public.  In essence, the information is there, but it isn’t open to the public in forms of accessibility.  It’s difficult to find.

Check out the latest quote from the NY Times regarding the politics involved in health care campaign contributions:

But what unites the proposal’s legislative backers is more than ideology. Its 42 co-sponsors, all Republicans, were almost all recipients of outsized campaign contributions from major health care interests, a total of about $765,000 in 2008, according to a new study by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan group based in Helena, Mont.

It is just one example of how insurance companies,hospitals and other health care interests have been positioning themselves in statehouses around the country to influence the outcome of the proposed health care overhaul. Around the 2008 election, the groups that provide health care contributed about $102 million to state political campaigns across the country, surpassing the $89 million the same donors spent at the federal level, according to the institute.

I got a good amount of my information from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.  I would recommend you click on their sites.

Check out the graph below for campaign finance records here from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. I am currently working on a graph that shows the last few years of decisions by the Michigan Supreme Court that are linked with the campaign contributions, but that is taking some time. I have only worked out med mal filings, which resulted in Michigan denying court access to the poor and indigent, but I am also working through the decisions supporting the insurance industries too.

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