March 29,2010; The Detroit News | The lack of state laws governing the operation of nonprofits that directly benefit Michigan politicians have drawn the ire of editorial writers at The Detroit News. They say the state should require “federal nonprofits that have any connection to an elected official “file annual expenditure reports and then consider “banning elected officials and their immediate relatives from participating in the funds, or reaping benefits from them.”

The paper cites the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, which was “ostensibly” established by disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilipatrick’s wife, Carlita, “to promote voter education and community improvement.” Political supporters of the mayor and those seeking to do business with the city were said to have donated to the fund, which was run by Kilpatrick’s sister.

The editorial states, “The fund appears to have been little more than a slush account used to funnel money from contributors into the pockets of the mayor and his friends and relatives.” The paper decries the absence of state restrictions on the operation of these kinds of funds to “keep an elected official from benefiting from them, or from shaking down favor seekers to keep them filled with cash.”

Seems like a reasonable and prudent request, but with the loosening of most restrictions on political campaigning these days, just think what will happen if some well-endowed groups can use their war chest to stop the efforts to halt what the paper calls “gravy trains” for politicians.—Bruce Trachtenberg