According to the Take Back Royal Oak Coalition, Pay-to-Play Policies at Issue in Royal Oak as Mayor and Commission Majority Slate Rake in Record Amounts of Special Interest Money
ROYAL OAK, Mich., Oct. 31, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Royal Oak's Mayor and Commission Majority are under fire as residents express outrage over the City's awarding of numerous no-bid city contracts, including many to political donors of the elected officials.
"You might as well put a big 'For Sale' sign at the entrance to our city, because these elected officials have made clear that if you're willing to write a big check, the City will give you whatever you want," said Stephen Miller, a longtime resident running for mayor.
Royal Oak has seen eye-popping increases in PAC contributions to candidates in recent years. In 2015, PAC contributions totaled just $2,400 for the five candidates on that year's ballot. That sum increased dramatically in 2017, to $24,950, an election marked with controversy surrounding Royal Oak's City-Center project, which featured the giveaway of public tax dollars and land to a private developer.
PAC contributions in 2019 blew away the record set just two years prior, nearly doubling to $47,455. Mayor Mike Fournier alone took in $19,155 in PAC contributions.
"This is alarming. Never before has our city seen this level of special interest involvement in our city elections," said Miller. "You have to ask yourself why they are taking such an interest in what essentially are volunteer positions, and what is in it for them if the candidates they support win?"
"How can residents have any confidence that their city government will look out for their best interests, when certain candidates willingly accept large amounts of money from people and organizations wanting to influence them?" asked Commissioner Randy LeVasseur, who frequently has been at odds with the Commission Majority.
LeVasseur went on to point out that one prominent supporter of the Mayor received a no-bid contract with the City for nearly $600,000 just weeks after hosting a 'Rock the Voter' party for the Mayor in October 2017.
"It is shocking that a politician would approve a no-bid contract to his friend and political donor and expect that taxpayers wouldn't take notice," said LeVasseur.
"The Commission Majority has shown repeatedly that our city government is for sale to the highest bidder," said Tom Hallock, a former City Commissioner who is running once again.
The PAC Money is flowing to Mike Fournier, $19,155 and $8,400 from individuals with significant business ties to city government. Kyle DuBuc, $13,800 in PAC donations; Pat Paruch, $13,800 and new comer Belem Morales for commissioner, $8,000 from PACs.
The opposing slate of Stephen Miller for Mayor and commission candidates Tom Hallock, Randy LeVasseur and Pam Lindell have taken no donations from PACs or special interest and are all self-funded or small donations from residents and others.
Campaign finance records can be found through the Oakland County Clerk's website at https://courts.oakgov.com/cfrs/.
The Take Back Royal Oak Coalition is a first amendment rights group of taxpayers including residents and businesses that want government transparency and to restore responsible leadership to the City of Royal Oak.