Thursday, January 22, 2009

Slush fund bankrolled by Aronoff paid for fancy portrait of County Executive

A 527 Political Committee appears to have been a backdoor expense account for Oakland County (MI) Executive L. Brooks Patterson -- who has announced he's exploring a run for Governor of Michigan.

Among other things, that PAC known as “County Executive Administrative Account” paid $5,000 to The Portraits of Robert Maniscalco, Inc. located in Grosse Pointe, MI.

The Maniscalco Gallery’s Web site brags that the artist has “created portraits for a number of prominent individuals.” Among Michigan’s public officials, Maniscalco brags he has painted portraits of Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Maniscalco was commissioned to paint the portraits of Mike and Marian Ilitch, Detroit billionaires, which hang on opposite walls in the couple's dining room. They own the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, MotorCity Casino and founded Little Caesars Pizza.

Disclosures note that “County Executive Administrative Account” (527 Committee) was organized by attorneys/lobbyists at Dykema Gossett PLLC. That firm has been Oakland County’s exclusive D.C. lobbying firm since 2003.

The 527 Committee was funded primarily by Action Strategies, Inc., an affiliate of the Landon Companies (Daniel Aronoff’s company), and Fried Saperstein Abbatt PC. Attorney Harold Fried has represented Aronoff’s interests.

Aronoff and Fried, who have development interests in Michigan and Florida, are at the center of a scandal and investigation involving a $10 million earmark for a Florida interchange advanced by Alaska’s Congressman Don Young -- among other pork, he advanced the "Bridge-to-Nowhere."

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