Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dykema Lobbyists set up expense account for Oakland County Exec Brooks Patterson

Oakland County (MI) Executive L. Brooks Patterson stood for re-election in 2004. (Wikipedia: L. Brooks Patterson)

A 527 Committee (a PAC) formed in 2004 by attorneys/lobbyists at Dykema Gossett PLLC was used to fund travel and other expenses for Patterson under the radar. That PAC was known as “County Executive Administrative Account.”

Among other things the committee covered travel expenses of $8,157 so Patterson and Arab American business leaders could attend a Dykema marketing event in Washington, D.C.

In September 2004, Dykema Gossett PLLC launched a Mideast Practice Initiative.

Richard McLellan, then a Dykema Gossett partner, was to be leader of the firm’s new Mideast Practice Initiative. He was also head of Dykema’s Government Policy Practice Group. (Note: McLellan, one of former Michigan Governor John Engler’s closest pals, has ties to various Indian gaming proposals being bankrolled by Michael J. Malik, Sr. and Marian Ilitch. McClellan recruited Lance Boldrey, Engler’s former counsel for Indian matters, to Dykema Gossett in 2003. Together McLellan and Boldrey have advanced the Malik/Ilitch gambling agenda).

Since 2003, Oakland County’s D.C. lobbying needs have been handled exclusively by Dykema Gossett lobbyists working in that firm's Government Policy Practice Group.

In 2004 & 2005, Jennifer Shoha was a government relations professional with Dykema Gossett’s Government Policy Practice Group working in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills and Washington D.C. offices. The Dykema Web site notes she was responsible for the firm's relationships with the Arab American business community. Like Boldrey, Ms. Shoha joined McLellan at Dykema after working as the one-time Director of Governor Engler’s Southeast Michigan office.

During 2004 & 2005, Shoha was Chair of County Executive Administrative Account, the 527 Committee which was apparently a receptacle for corporate contributions used to cover various expenses for Patterson, Oakland County's Executive. It should be noted that during 2005, Shoha was also registered as a D.C. lobbyist for Oakland County.

Disclosures indicate that among other things, the 527 Committee funded $8,157 in travel expenses for Patterson to attend an inaugural event for Dykema’s Mideast Practice Initiative in June 2005; an event that clearly designed to benefit both McLellan and Shoha among others at Dykema.

The paperwork to set up the 527 Committee was handled by Dykema employee Wendy Seigel. At that time, she was an administrative assistant working under McLellan in Dykema's Government Policy Practice Group.
The Dykema team raised $34,050 for the 527 Committee from 2004-2005.

It's notable that more than 55% of the 527 Committee's money came from two related sources: Before, during and after this period; affiliates of Aronoff and Landon Companies had ongoing legal and real estate development matters pending in Oakland County which among other things involved the Novi Promenade.

What's more, the Aronoff affiliate Action Strategies, Inc. contributed nearly three times more to the 527 Committee for Patterson than any other donor. Others who contributed included Dick and Elizabeth DeVos, Detroit Edison Company and Quicken Loans.

Aronoff and Fried, both of whom reportedly split time between Michigan and Florida, are at the center of a major political scandal and U.S. Justice Department investigation examining their fundraising and lobbying practices as tied to Alaska's Rep. Don Young and a $10 million transportation earmark for a Florida interchange (Coconut Rd.).

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