Former Michigan state Rep. Kevin Daley defeated Rep. Gary Glenn, 59 percent to 41 percent, in a Republican primary for the state senate. Glenn is a tea party advocate of the free market who has been notably critical of what he regards as the effective monopolies exercised by Consumers Power and DTE Energy Co. utilities. Glenn’s campaign statements show that he believes in term limits, protections for the Second Amendment, traditional marriage, and right-to-work requirements. He will no longer be in the state legislature as of Jan. 1.
Among Glenn’s goals is to put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot to give Michigan’s utility customers 100 percent choice for electricity purchases.
In an August 9 Facebook post. Glenn stated that he believes his free market principles cost him the primary election. Currently, under a 2008 Michigan law, electric consumers are allowed to purchase electricity from alternative energy suppliers, but it is capped at 10 percent of electric generation. Glenn believes that Michigan’s biggest utilities, Consumers Energy Co. and DTE Energy Co., have blocked the expansion of consumer choice and opposed his support for consumer choice. He has also opposed the utilities over their mandatory installation of “smart” electric meters, and DTE's $1 billion gas plant north of Detroit.
Glenn wrote on Facebook, “I have no regrets. No thought has or will enter my mind that if I'd only been quieter or less confrontational about the free market principles that ...the big bad utility monopolies wouldn't have come gunning for me. Far from it. I'm flattered that they thought me that big a threat to their current monopoly scheme."
Glenn reportedly believes that the utility companies donated untraceable “dark money” donations to organizations that are not required to disclose political donors. He claims that he identified more than $800,000 spent on radio and television ads, as well as Internet and direct mail advertising by three organizations he contends are connected to the utilities. Jake Davison, who publishes InsideMichiganPolitics, told Spero News in an interview that while the "dark money" definitely played a role in Glenn's defeat, it may not have been decisive. However, with Glenn's departure from Michigan's legislature, the state's two major utilities have los a formidable opponent who would have continued to dog them with demands for freeing up the utilities markets.
In May, a report by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network estimated that more than $1.01 million had been spent by these groups. That month, Consumers Energy admitted to spending $2500 on Employees for Better Government, which is affiliated with the utility. Consumers Energy also contributed to Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy, which is now known as Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy (CEME). According to filings submitted to the Michigan Public Service Commission, Consumers contributed $43.5 million to CEME, which is listed as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization.
Faithful Conservatives of Michigan spent $263,000 on TV ads in favor of Daley but criticizing g Glenn, according to the Kantar Media/CMAG data analyzed by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Faithful Conservatives of Michigan shares an address, attorney and media buyer with , Citizens for Energizing Michigan's Economy. However, Consumers Power denies it has funded Faithful Conservatives. Attorney Eric Doster represents both Citizens for Energizing Michigan’s Economy and Faithful Conservatives of Michigan. A specialist in campaign finance and election law, Doster is a former lawyer for the Michigan GOP.
According to Crain’s, Glenn cited an advertisement from Faithful Conservatives for Michigan that declared on Facebook, "There is a snake in the swamp of Michigan politics" and sought to show that he allegedly received money in exchange for a vote in a "play-for-pay" scheme while working as a lobbyist in Idaho politics. The ad claims that Glenn voted to keep an $80 million tax loophole for insurance companies, and called on voters to call their legislators and "tell them the days of corruption are over." Fellow GOP Rep. John Reilly has filed a complaint against Faithful Conservatives for illegal “electioneering.” Reilly has called on Michigan’s Bureau of Elections to investigate and refer the case to the state Attorney General.
Glenn has endorsed Daley in the general election. Annette, Glenn’s wife, won the August 7 primary to replace him in the House.
Consumers Energy confirmed this week that as a “corporate citizen,” it is engaged in politics and that it has contributed to CEME. DTE also confirmed that it is involved in the “bipartisan political process.” Joining Consumers Energy, DTE asserted that contributions do not come from customers and do not reflect utility rates.