Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero's 527 account has collected $24,081 so far in 2011. Here is the list of contributors:
The account has existed since 2006 and has taken in a total of $254,851. This IRS Fact Sheet provides some information on 527 accounts. I think what it basically says is that politicians can collect unlimited amounts of money from people and do pretty much whatever they want with it. And it is tax free.
According to a June 2006 solicitation letter from Virg, contributors like those listed above are members "of a distinguished group of individuals dedicated to growing the Lansing area's economy and quality of life" who will provide support for "strategic initiatives of my administration." It goes on to say
When you look at the list of expenditures for the first half of 2011, however, it is difficult to see how they relate to any "strategic initiatives" other than paying for Virg's day-to-day expenses. Note how many of the charges are for "Meals & Entertainment". And item 30 on the list looks to me like a $100 haircut - which, if that is indeed what it was, failed to make Virg look anywhere as good as John Edwards. Other items of interest include $1139 for mugs (item 7) and $2461 paid to Quality Playing Cards, Inc. of Orlando, FL for "Meals & Entertainment" (item 11). But my favorite is the $1 for "Meals & Entertainment" at Jimmy Johns (item 53). I don't know what you can buy at Jimmy Johns for $1, but what bothers me is that Virg couldn't just pay it out of his own pocket rather than charge it to his 527 account.
I first heard about Bernero's City Administrative Account in a 9/29/09 story in the Lansing State Journal by Derek Melot. $194,900 had been raised since 1/1/2006, including $2500 from the Lansing Board of Water and Light. Other stories followed. Here are the ones I am aware of:
And here is an article from way back in 2006: Michigan politicians use loophole to collect corporate cash, Alex Nixon, mlive.com, 10/26/06.
The custodian of the account is Charles L. Moore of C.L. Moore & Associates, P.C. He describes the purpose of the organization on a Form 881, Political Organization Notice of Section 527 Status that he filed with the IRS:
I've compiled the data from the all the reports from the beginning through 6/30/2011. Here are the reporting period totals:
Here is the detail:
If you would like to look at the actual IRS data, go to IRS.gov, click on the Charities & Non-Profits tab, then Political Orgs. Next, click Political Organization Filing and Disclosure. Scroll down and click Search Political Organization Disclosures. Under Basic Search, click the box for Form 8872 and in the box for Employer Identification Number (EIN), enter 20-3950788. Then click "City Administrative Account". Ignore the "initial" reports for 12/31/2008 and 4/15/2006; they've been replaced by "amended" reports.