News Story

Michigan senator targets National Popular Vote junkets in floor speech

Senator says transparency is lacking as movement funds ‘all-expense seminars’ in warm destinations

Among the critics of Michigan House Bill 4156, the National Popular Vote bill, is Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake. Last week Runestad used the National Popular Vote to make a larger point about the lack of transparency in Michigan government.

National Popular Vote, for years, has taken politicians and politicos on paid junkets to what Runestad calls “exotic, warm-weather locations.” With House Bill 4156 passing the House Elections Committee on June 6, a day before Runestad’s speech, it headed to the full Michigan House, where it’s only three steps from becoming the law in Michigan: passage in the full House, passage in an identical form in the Senate, and a signature from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Read it for yourself: House Bill 4156 of 2023, National Popular Vote

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will take effect when enough states to award 270 electoral votes have joined. That number, 270, is the majority of 538 electoral votes, and enough votes to elect the president of the United States. Last month, Minnesota joined the compact, bringing it to 205 votes. If Michigan gave its 15, the compact would have 220 out of 270.

With House Bill 4156 on the move in Lansing, Runestad questioned the tactics the campaign has used to build support.

Runestad’s remarks were published in Senate Journal 54 of 2023, covering the Senate session for June 7. Michigan House and Senate Journals are the state equivalent of the Congressional Record in Washington. They carry the remarks lawmakers make during full sessions of the House and Senate.

“As we are all very well aware, Michigan is the least transparent state in the nation,” Runestad said. “Transparency and sunshine are the antiseptic to corruption.”

Runestad went on to say:

...we have two organizations—FairVote and the Institute for Research on Presidential Elections—paying all-expense seminars to exotic, warm-weather locations including Scottsdale, Arizona; South Florida; Puerto Rico; Las Vegas; St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, and other fabulous donations. These trips are sponsored by National Popular Vote, which is pushing legislation being voted on in committee this very week, but uses these arms-length organizations to pay the freight so that no records are disclosed.

At Capital Research, Parker Thayer reported that less than 1% of the money raised by YES on National Popular Vote of Michigan, the campaign committee pushing for the law, came from Michiganders. The majority came from wealthy donors on the east and west coasts, and from the national YES on National Popular Vote organization.

If National Popular Vote becomes the law with Michigan as a member, the Michigan vote tally would no longer decide who gets the state’s 15 votes in presidential races. That would be awarded to the winner of the so-called national popular vote, a subjective, non-certified result.

Under House Bill 4156, only in the event of a nationwide tie, in a country of 150 million voters, would the Michigan vote tally be the deciding factor in who gets Michigan’s electoral votes.

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.