News Story

Not Much Mystery Behind $9 Million Raised for Prop 4

Proposal 4 supporters expect voters to believe that the union is spending $9,593 per name for a registry

Home Care First Inc., an organization that is believed to be primarily funded by the Service Employees International Union, has pumped nearly $9 million into Proposal 4. 

The SEIU is trying to stay out of the picture in the push to get Proposal 4 passed, but the ballot initiative was created to preserve a scheme that was orchestrated by the union when Jennifer Granholm was governor. As a result, about 44,000 home-based caregivers were forced into the union. The SEIU wants the scheme to continue because it takes about $6 million a year from those workers, most of whom are taking care of family and friends.

The set-up using Home Care First and a committee, Citizens for Affordable Home Care, allows for the campaign contributions to be hidden until March.

According to campaign finance reports, Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care has reported raising almost $9 million for Proposal 4 with the money coming from Home Care First.

Home Care First was created just days before the signature petition drive for what is now known as Proposal 4 was started. Home Care First's treasurer is Dohn Hoyle, who is the spokesman for the campaign supporting the ballot initiative and also is co-chair of Citizens for Affordable Quality Care.

MLive reported that Hoyle said Home Care First is a 501(c)4 non-profit organization, which gives it the ability to lobby under IRS regulations. Hoyle told MLive that Home Care First is supported by the same groups that support Proposal 4. 

Proposal 4 backers claim the measure is about providing a background check registry to protect patients in their homes. What they don't say is that such a registry has been around since 2006 and has largely been ignored.

Apparently, the Proposal 4 campaign wants Michigan voters to believe that mystery donors are willing to spend more than $8.95 million to convince people that a registry is needed. Only 933 names have been added to the registry in six years. That means Proposal 4 backers are spending roughly $9,593 per name to convince people the registry is essential.

"If the SEIU is bankrolling this, it isn't a surprise," said Patrick Wright, senior legal analyst at Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "It would just show how much the union has made in profits from this and how it all goes to politics."

In reality, Proposal 4 is about locking a forced unionization of Michigan's home-based caregivers scheme into the constitution. The SEIU orchestrated the forced unionization in 2005 when Jennifer Granholm was governor and has been receiving money deducted from the Medicaid checks of home-based caregivers ever since.

So far the SEIU has taken more than $32 million from the disabled and elderly in Michigan.

"The legislature de-funded this after we saw what they were really doing," said National Republican Party Committee member and state Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville. "These 40,000 people should never have had that money taken away from them in the first place. It should be returned to them."

Hoyle, who also is executive director of the Arc Michigan, pushes aside connections to the union and in an interview with the Detroit Free Press called a home-based caregiver "an idiot" because he is opposed to Proposal 4 and the forced unionization.

Initially, the Proposal 4 campaign claimed it was about allowing the elderly and others with disabilities have the option of being cared for at home instead of being sent to nursing homes. What the proposal backers didn't say was that such a program already exists. It's called the Home Help Program and has been around since 1981.

The private sector also provides resources for those who require care in their homes.

Barbara Roden is the head of Senior Helpers, which provides in-home care for senior citizens in Oakland Wayne and Macomb counties and says Proposal 4 would hurt senior citizens by increasing the cost of in-home care.

"Being in the business of home care, if this proposal passes it will force my employees to unionize, and will raise the cost of employing them, which in turn will force my client’s rates to increase," Roden said. "We already do criminal background checks on our caregivers.  Seniors will not garner any new benefits from this proposal."

Hoyle did not respond to a request for comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.