Manuel "Matty" Moroun (Courtesy: Susan Tusa/Detroit Free Press)
LANSING, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) - Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun on Tuesday and Wednesday pumped another $5.1 million into his ballot campaign aimed at forcing a referendum on a new public bridge to Canada, records show.
The latest contributions from Moroun's Detroit International Bridge Co. are in addition to the $4.7 million Moroun reported spending on the ballot effort as of July.
And the latest money is on top of whatever Moroun and his companies contributed to the campaign between July and Oct. 21. The report for that period is due on Friday.
But under a quirk of Michigan's campaign finance reporting laws, "late contributions" to campaigns, made since Sunday, must be reported within 24 hours, before the report for the earlier period is even due. Moroun reported having made "late contributions" of $700,000 on Tuesday and $4.43 million on Wednesday.
"I think he's going to be well over $20 million," said Tom Shields, a spokesman for the New International Trade Crossing bridge project and for Taxpayers Against Monopolies, the ballot committee that is fighting Moroun's proposals.
Shields said his group can't compete with Moroun in money spent, but said: "You don't need as much money when you're telling the truth."
Mickey Blashfield, a spokesman for The People Should Decide, Moroun's bridge ballot initiative committee, said the late contributions are to cover recent invoices for TV ad buys that were reserved some time ago.
The campaign won't let up as Nov. 6 approaches, Blashfield said.
By comparison, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his Democratic opponent Virg Bernero spent about $14 million combined on the entire 2010 governor's race.
The most expensive ballot initiative in Michigan history was a 2004 casino proposal, on which proponents and opponents spent a combined $26.5 million. Adjusted for inflation, that campaign would have cost $32.3 million today.
The public bridge to Canada is backed by Gov. Rick Snyder and much of the business community. Snyder accused Moroun of bankrolling a false and misleading ad campaign in order to preserve his Ambassador Bridge monopoly.
By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press Lansing bureau