CREW Releases Report Revealing Motor City Pay-to-Play Scandal
Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its new report, Troubled Crossing, detailing how billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun has mounted an expensive influence campaign to prevent the construction of a new bridge between Detroit and Canada.
Mr. Moroun’s company, the Detroit International Bridge Co. (DIBC), owns the Ambassador Bridge – currently the only bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Canada – and is seeking to build a new bridge, which Mr. Moroun would also own. To try and stop construction of the proposed public bridge, Mr. Moroun has ramped up campaign contributions and lobbying efforts.
“Mr. Moroun has pulled out all the stops to maintain his monopoly,” stated CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Not content with relying on the same old, same old of lobbyists and campaign contributions, he’s trotted out new tricks such as funding the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, which distributed fake eviction notices to scare neighborhood residents into opposing the bridge.”
After plans for the new bridge, known as the New International Trade Crossing, were announced in 2004, federal campaign contributions from Mr. Moroun, his family, and DIBC executives began to skyrocket; contributions to federal candidates jumped by 252% during the 2004 election cycle. Over the 2008, 2010, and 2012 cycles, Mr. Moroun and his network contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to members of the Michigan congressional delegation. Some of the contributions came shortly after members took a stance against the project. Additionally, in 2011, Mr. Moroun and his family contributed $40,000 total to the campaign and political action committees of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Mr. Moroun and the DIBC also mounted a massive lobbying campaign, with lobbying expenses jumping by 56% between 2009 and 2011. In an effort to sway public opinion on the project, the company spent at least $4.7 million in 2011 on television ads portraying the new bridge as an expensive burden to taxpayers. Mr. Moroun is seeking to add a referendum on the bridge to the November ballot.
Sloan continued, “Michigan’s governor, Canadian officials, businesses, and the public have all lined up behind the public bridge. If Mr. Moroun didn’t have such deep pockets, the new bridge would be a done deal. This is exactly the sort of pay-to-play scheme designed to assist special interests at the expense of the public interest.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.