Pro-Duggan super PAC has booked over $300K in TV ads - KMSP-TV

Pro-Duggan super PAC has booked over $300K in TV ads

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Mike Duggan Mike Duggan
DETROIT (WJBK) -

By now you have probably seen television ads promoting Mike Duggan as a write-in candidate for mayor. However, Duggan is not paying for them. They are being bankrolled by Turnaround Detroit.

"All of our resources go directly into voter education and frankly communicating to voters through advertising, through mail, through television ads, through radio ads," says Buzz Thomas, the organization's treasurer.

Turnaround Detroit is what is known as a super PAC. It can take in as much money as it can get and spend as much as it wants.

However, Duggan is not the only one with friends. The Detroit Forward super PAC supports Benny Napoleon.

Veteran Detroit political observer Darci McConnell says super PACs are new players in Detroit mayoral politics. They have become popular since a Supreme Court ruling essentially cleared the way for fat cats to stuff political actions committees with dough.

"It doesn't always mean that a smaller block or a smaller group will be able to hold more sway or too much sway, but it does increase the likelihood of that to happen," she says.

So far, the candidates have not spent much on television ads. A Fox 2 analysis found that Duggan has booked $83,000 in TV ads. Lisa Howze has booked $4,000, and Krystal Crittendon has spent $3,000.

However, the super PACs are another story. Our analysis found that the pro-Duggan Turnaround Detroit has booked more than $300,000 in TV ads. The pro-Napoleon Detroit Forward has spent only $12,000.

"Detroit Forward is basically the people's PAC. We don't have the kind of big money that is out there right now," says spokesman Greg Bowens.

Special interest money is nothing new in Detroit politics. In 2005, a mysterious group paid for a controversial ad implying that the news media had lynched Kwame Kilpatrick. Political operative Adolph Mongo later copped to using Kilpatrick's Civic Fund money for the ad.

In 2001, Kilpatrick was the one battling independent expenditures. Detroiters for Full Disclosure, who ironically refused to disclose where they got their money, paid for an ad featuring Geoffrey Fieger pimping for Kilpatrick opponent Gil Hill.

McConnell says that election proved that getting elected mayor requires more than friends with deep pockets bankrolling a ton of commercials.

"Kilpatrick won, so I guess they weren't effective enough," she says.

We will not know where the super PACs are getting all their money until they file their financial reports, which are due next week.

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