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February 02, 2005 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-02

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NEWS

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 2, 2005 - 7

Democrats spar over DNC money

LANSING (AP) - As Democrats continued to
wrangle over what the party should look like to ensure
victory in 2008, a fight has broken out between the
Democratic National Committee and state Democrat-
ic officials over how DNC money was spent on John
0 Kerry's 2004 race in Michigan.
Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer has
been asked by a top DNC official to allow the party's
books to be audited, but has turned down the request.
"We don't see a need for it. But we're happy to
answer any questions that they may have," Brewer
said. "There was nothing wrong that was done. That's
why there was no need for an audit."
DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera said the DNC wants
more information because its donors want to know
how the $8 million was spent.
"When people donate to the DNC, they expect that
money will be used wisely. That is why it is our policy
to make sure there's financial accountability for those
funds," Cabrera said.
Brewer said the DNC originally gave the Michigan
Coordinated Campaign around $7 million leading
up to the Nov. 2 election, but that the campaign had
counted on getting $8 million.
"We told them that they were short on the commit-
ment of money that they'd made to Michigan," Brewer
said Thursday. "We needed the money to complete the
program, which we had built based on their promises
of additional funding."
Brewer said he does not remember how much money
he requested, but Democratic sources in Washington
close to the situation said Brewer told the DNC that
the coordinated campaign was at least $2.5 million in
the hole. They also said he threatened to shut down the
campaign - and cost Kerry Michigan's 17 electoral
votes - if he did not get the money.
Brewer said he never threatened to shut down
the michigan daily

"If this was such an important issue, why did we not hear
about it for over two and a half months?"
- Mark Brewer
Michigan Democratic Party Chairman

Counties: State has
inadequate funding
for juvenile centers

the campaign.
"We thought they had promised more than they had
sent," he said. "We resolved it by them chipping in
more money, and we also raised more money. And we
went on to win the state by three-and-a-half points."
The DNC ended up sending $1 million more, and
Brewer estimates the state party raised $2 million to $3
million on its own over the course of the campaign.
He added that the party has filed its campaign
records with the Federal Elections Commission,
where the information is a matter of public record. It is
unclear if those records would show the details DNC
officials want.
It is unlikely the flap will derail Brewer's attempts
to be elected state chairman at the party's Feb. 19 state
convention in Detroit. Brewer was party chairman
from 1995 until 2003, when he became the party's
executive chairman in a shared power arrangement
with Chairman Melvin "Butch" Hollowell. Hollowell
left that post last year.
Brewer also is president of the Association of Demo-
cratic State Chairs. He is up for re-election on Feb. 10,
two days before DNC members elect a new chairman.
Brewer said the complaints against him are really
an attempt to tarnish the Michigan director of the
Kerry/Edwards campaign, Donnie Fowler, in his cam-
paign for DNC chairman.

"It's my belief that this is nothing more than a smear
against Donnie Fowler, and the only reason this is
being raised is because he's become a candidate for
DNC chair," Brewer said. "If this was such an impor-
tant issue, why did we not hear about it for over two
and a half months, until Donnie becomes a serious
candidate for DNC chair?"
Fowler's bid appeared to lose momentum Monday after
the Association of State Democratic Chairs endorsed
former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who now appears
to have the best chance to win the DNC chairmanship.
The association's executive committee had voted the day
before to recommend endorsing Fowler.
Brewer said he did not vote with the committee or
participate in Monday's vote.
Fowler declined to return phone calls yesterday. But
he issued a statement recently in which he tried to dis-
tance himself from the Michigan campaign spending
dispute, saying that he and other Kerry/Edwards state
directors did not manage or set up tracking processes
for campaign budgets because of federal laws.
But Fowler legally could have participated in dis-
cussions about how the DNC money should be spend
and would have been aware of how the DNC money
was being handled in Michigan, especially since the
Kerry campaign office shared quarters with the coor-
dinated campaign.

LANSING (AP) - The state appeals
court heard yesterday from upset Michi-
gan counties that say the state isn't giv-
ing them enough money to place wards in
their juvenile detention centers.
The financial dispute directly involves
11 counties and the Family Independence
Agency, but it could affect 13 other coun-
ties that run detention facilities.
The state reimburses counties for half
the cost of caring for wards of probate
courts - but that does not include capital
costs such as construction or equipment
costs higher than $500.
The counties say the state is violating
the law by not paying 50 percent of the
total cost to care for juvenile wards, who
are under the protection and custody of
the state or courts.
"I didn't craft it," the counties' attor-
ney, Douglas Van Essen, said of the
state's social welfare law. "But that's the
system."
Van Essen pointed to a statute and the
1978 Headlee Amendment, which bars
the state from reducing existing levels of
aid to local governments. The total cost at
stake could exceed $1 million, or an aver-
age of $100,000 per county, he said.
Though not an astronomical figure,

Van Essen said it's crucial because coun-
ties have received fewer dollars in rev-
enue sharing in recent years. The state cut
the payments to deal with its own budget
deficits.
But the FIA disputes this claim.
Assistant attorney general Joel
McGormley said the counties have the
option of opening a detention center.
Wards also can be placed in private or
state-run facilities.
"There is no requirement or mandate
that counties have a facility," McGormley
told a three-judge panel.
The FIA has never meant to fund
capital costs in the past and the counties
improperly submitted them as expendi-
tures, he said.
The eleven counties suing the FIA are
Allegan, Bay, Berrien, Eaton, Grand Tra-
verse, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Midland,
Ottawa, Saginaw and Washtenaw. Grand
Traverse does not have a center but has
discussed building one.
The FIA said other counties with deten-
tion centers - but not involved in the suit
- include Calhoun, Genesee, Ingham,
Jackson, Kent, Lenawee, Macomb, Mon-
roe, Oakland, Roscommon, St. Clair and
Wayne.

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