FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
April 27, 2015
Lucrative Contracts & Massive Campaign Contributions: Bill Schuette’s Cozy Relationship with Warner Norcross & Judd
Attorney General received $68K in campaign cash, while law firm received $728,000 in state contracts
MICHIGAN — Bill Schuette and his former employer, Warner Norcross & Judd, have enjoyed a cozy and mutually beneficial relationship ever since he took over as Michigan’s Attorney General. That relationship has resulted in at least $68,000 in contributions to Schuette from the law firm’s PAC and roughly $728,000 in state contracts for the law firm, which calls into question the nature of Schuette’s relationship with his former employer and raises the issue of whether or not Schuette is engaging in pay-to-play politics of the worst kind.
Progress Michigan has compiled information that shows money continually changing hands between Bill Schuette and WNJ ever since Schuette took office.
“Based on these public reports, the question needs to be asked: is this a pay-to-play operation? Bill Schuette has been doling out massive contracts to Warner Norcross & Judd while, at the same time, the law firm has given him piles of campaign contributions and access to their stable of attorneys to push his far-right agenda,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “No one could look at this data and think, ‘Yes, this is how it’s supposed to work,’ because, frankly, this could be corruption and cronyism at its worst.”
Now the controversial relationship has made its way to the United States Supreme Court.
Schuette selected John Bursch of Warner Norcross to argue in favor of the state’s marriage equality ban. But this isn’t the first time Schuette has tapped his former employer for assistance before the top court in the land. In 2011, Schuette named Bursch to the position of solicitor general, the state’s main lawyer to argue before the Supreme Court.
While Warner Norcross & Judd has attempted to distance itself from the same-sex marriage ban case set to take place on Tuesday, their campaign contributions have spoken louder than their words. The law firm has given at least $68,000 to Schuette through its PAC over the years for his AG campaigns and even provided office space during campaign season.
“The heads of Warner Norcross can claim until they’re blue in the face that they’re not on the side of discrimination, but if you give money to Bill Schuette, you’re directly supporting state-sanctioned discrimination,” Scott said. “If you support Schuette, you support discrimination. Our Attorney General and discrimination are inseparable.”
According to publicly available records, Schuette and WNJ have had a questionable relationship ever since he took office. Beginning in 2012, WNJ’s state contracts ballooned from a $25,000 and a $24,000 contract to include a $500,000 contract. Later that year in October, WNJ received two additional state contracts for about $25,000 each. That same month, Schuette received a $34,000 campaign donation from WNJ.
Throughout the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, WNJ received several state contracts totaling about $178,000. In 2014, WNJ donated twice to Schuette: in one instance a June $2,000 donation and the other — valued at $32,000 — the day before the November election.
Since taking office, Schuette has received at least $68,000 in campaign contributions from the Warner Norcross & Judd PAC, while the law firm has received about $728,000 worth of state contracts.
“It’s sad to see our Attorney General use his power and influence to peddle out huge contracts to his well-connected cronies,” Scott continued. “What’s even worse is seeing this questionable relationship rear its ugly head in front of the Supreme Court. The people of Michigan don’t want this type of behavior from the people’s attorney, but that’s exactly what we’ve seen from Attorney General Bill Schuette.”
A document detailing the facts and figures stated above is attached.