One Consumers front group attacking Glenn is run by Jennifer Granholm's 2006 campaign manager
Discrepancies in Consumers financial reports may lead to formal complaints with IRS, SEC
Auburn, Mich. -- Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Williams Twp., Wednesday called on his Republican primary opponent, former Rep. Kevin Daley, R-Lum, to disavow and denounce a high-dollar "dark money" campaign by Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison executives using corporate funds collected from Michigan electricity customers to promote Daley's campaign and attack Glenn's record and character.
"I call on Kevin Daley and Patti Poppe to stop their sleazy smear campaign, the obvious purpose of which is to protect utility bosses' continued monopoly power over Michigan home owners and businesses," Glenn said, referring to his GOP opponent and to Consumers Energy's CEO. "If Kevin Daley has the moral courage to oppose Patti Poppe's big lie campaign on his behalf, run by Jennifer Granholm's campaign manager, he should say so publicly and denounce it."
Glenn, chairman of the House Energy Policy Committee, said he expects instead that "utility executives know from his silence that Kevin Daley won't threaten the monopoly scheme that lets Patti Poppe and her corporate cronies take tens of millions in excess profits from Michigan homeowners and businesses, hurting families and our economy, while utility executives cut deals with a left-wing California billionaire to drive electricity costs in Michigan even higher."
Glenn referenced a Wall Street Journal commentary Friday which accused Consumers Energy and DTE executives with bypassing state lawmakers and regulators to enter into an agreement with California billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, which the author, a staff member with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said will result in higher electricity costs in the state.
Glenn first earned utility executives' ire in 2016 when, as a freshman lawmaker, he successfully led the opposition to attempts by utility lobbyists to eliminate even the 10 percent of Michigan's electricity that can be purchased from less expensive competitors to Consumers and DTE. That existing "electricity choice" program, though capped at 10 percent, has saved public schools in Lapeer County over $2.2 million, over $1.8 million for Tuscola County schools, and over $560,000 for schools in Bay County.
Glenn noted that multiple utility "dark money" front groups -- all operating from the same law office at the same street address in a Lansing suburb -- have run ads attacking him.
One TV and radio ad -- paid for by "Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy," located at 2145 Commons Parkway, Okemos -- accuses Glenn of "outsourcing Michigan electric jobs" because he favors allowing all electricity customers to choose where they buy their electricity, rather than being forced by Michigan's now near-total monopoly system to buy from Consumers and DTE at higher cost. CEME's president is Howard Edelson, former director of government affairs for Consumers Energy and 2006 campaign manager for former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Because the ads don't expressly say "vote for" Daley, they can legally be paid for by corporate money taken from monopoly utilities' state-guaranteed annual 10 percent profit, which they earn on the hundreds of millions of dollars they collect each year from the state's electricity customers.
According to Crain's Business Detroit, Consumers Energy alone has contributed $2,500 directly to Daley's campaign, but has also contributed -- according to Consumers' formal filings with the Michigan Public Service Commission -- over $43 million since 2014 to the "Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy" front group, run by Edelson, that's running attack ads against Glenn.
According to multiple media reports, the numbers in Consumers Energy's filings with the MPSC and its filings with the IRS over the same time period don't match, which Glenn said may lead to formal complaints against Consumers with the IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
"Matt Kasper of the Energy and Policy Institute found that the lobbying group failed to disclose all of the money to the IRS. But he says it's clear what a lot of it's being used for: to help elect opponents of two legislators that Consumers wants out of office -- Gary Glenn and Tom Barrett," Michigan Radio reported.
The Energy and Policy Institute also reported: "CEME, a 501c4 organization, reports in its annual filings with the Internal Revenue Service for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016 that is has received only $8.5 million in revenue. Consumers Energy contributed a total of $23.5 during those years, which suggests that at least $15 million has not been reported to the IRS by the 501c4 organization, and needs to be explained."
Glenn pointed to a second Consumers Energy "dark money" group -- so-called "Faithful Conservatives for Michigan," also located at 2145 Commons Parkway, Okemos. The Energy and Policy Institute reported that "Faithful Conservatives for Michigan, which is also promoting the opponents of Reps. Glenn and (Tom) Barrett, is registered at Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy' address and was incorporated by the same person who registered CEME."
"Faithful Conservatives," which for over a month ran ads touting the importance of "Kevin Daley's farm," is now running attack ads repeating an accusation, discredited fifteen years ago when it was made, that Glenn had tried to bribe an elected official in Idaho. Click here for the mailing.
Former Idaho Attorney General and Lt. Gov. David H. Leroy, also a former county prosecutor, wrote in a June 14, 2018 letter in response to the Consumers-financed resurrection of the false allegation:
"I was involved as private legal counsel in the discussions and inquiry into the unfounded accusations now again improperly leveled against Rep. Gary Glenn. They proved baseless nearly fifteen years ago. The concern arose from his political support of Idaho's term limits law. The inquiring authorities found all allegations to be without factual support and no proceedings, civil or criminal, were ever filed related to the incident. According to Rep. Glenn, the individual who made the baseless accusations even later apologized to him for authoring those contentions."
"I have known Gary Glenn for nearly four decades," Leroy wrote, "and have found him to be a man of high character motivated by deeply held convictions and principle. ...I trust that his competence, intellect, energy and commitment to good governance are evident to the voters of Michigan."
Glenn said Daley's conscience should compel him to disavow the false statements being made to benefit his campaign.
"The false allegations paid for by corporate funds from Consumers and DTE are serious and malicious. They repeat a long ago-discredited false accusation of a serious crime, and do so with the undeniable intention of affecting the result of the election in Mr. Daley's favor," Glenn said. "As a Christian, Kevin Daley should be ashamed, and he should speak out against monopoly utility bosses bearing false witness on his behalf, who went so far in one mailing as using a picture of the Bible and a Bible verse to give cover to their sleazy smear campaign. Then he should apologize for standing by silent to this point while his campaign benefited from such sleazy smears."
Glenn noted that even Consumers Energy's own shareholders are growing increasingly uncomfortable with company executives' use of corporate funds for politically-related expenditures. At Consumers' annual shareholders meeting in May, a resolution requiring the company to fully disclose all its corporate political spending received 45 percent of shareholders' votes despite opposition to the resolution by Consumers' board of directors.
The Energy and Policy Institute reported: "Consumers Energy nearly faced a shareholder revolt over its political spending at its May 2018 shareholder meeting, and that was before the full extent of its funding of CEME was first reported. A shareholder resolution nearly passed with 45% support that would have required Consumers Energy to make public all of its expenditures made to influence the public. The same resolution received 36% support in 2017. Each year the board of directors recommended their shareholders reject the proposal."