Ads pulled in 94th State House campaign - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Ads pulled in 94th State House campaign

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(08/01/12) - In less than a week, voters will go to the polls. Until then, expect to see plenty of ads touting one candidate or another.

You might have already received some in the mail, but do you know who is sending them out?

ABC12 started to look at one series of ads, and after we started asking some questions, the ads have been pulled.

State Representative Ken Horn is term-limited in the 94th State House seat, and the battle is on to replace him.

One candidate has been getting help from a political advocacy non-profit, but is the help against the law?

The campaign ads that residents in the 94th State House district have been getting in the mail appear to be touting Republican Tim Kelly in the race. The ads are not paid for by Kelly's campaign, but by an entity called Future Michigan.

What is Future Michigan? It is a political advocacy non-profit, similar to a political action committee, started by State Senator Roger Kahn. It was originally called the Roger Kahn Fund for Civic Involvement. Its named changed in 2007.

Kahn has endorsed Kelly in the race over Ann Doyle, who is pictured on one of the ads - an ad that appears to indicate Kelly is the real conservative in the race.

But in Future Michigan's Articles of Incorporation, it states "the Corporation shall not be used for participation in, or intervention in, any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office."

Is Future Michigan in violation of its own rules, which could put its status as a 501C-4 non-profit in jeopardy, and is it breaking campaign election laws? An attorney for Future Michigan, Alan Wilk, says no, because these are issue advocacy ads, not about the candidates.

"There are magic words, that the U.S. Supreme Court has determined to be words of express advocacy, and those are elect for, vote for, retain, support," Wilk said.

When we showed one of these ads to Future Michigan's president, Larry Preston, who didn't realize the ads were out, he didn't think Future Michigan was violating its own rules or the law.

Preston added, "But I think it goes beyond that, are we adhering to the spirit of the law?" So Preston has decided "there will be no more distribution of these ads and a new screening process is in place before these ads are distributed."

Preston says he wants to see any ad affiliated with Future Michigan before it's sent out.

Tim Kelly would not comment for this story, nor would Ann Doyle.

"I was a little disturbed at it, because it appeared that there was some interference outside of the district," said Dan Kuhn with the Police Officers Association of Michigan, a group that has endorsed Doyle in the race. "I think whoever decided to pull them, must be aware and must believe it was wrong, or I imagine that would have these things keep coming into the district."

Over the last week, we attempted to reach State Senator Roger Kahn a number of times for comment on this story, but our phone calls were not returned.

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