West Michigan Policy Forum
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The West Michigan Policy Forum (WMPF) is a 501(c)(4) organization focused on advancing a pro-business policy agenda in Michigan. WMPF's website describes its mission as "to create a competitive economic environment for Michigan through targeted public policy."
Its policy goals include "local government consolidation," making permitting easier for businesses, maintaining Michigan as a "right-to-work" state, and building a freight tunnel to Canada.
The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
In 2012, the WMPF received $1 million from Freedom Partners, which has been described as the "Koch brothers' secret bank." That year, right-wing groups successfully pressured the Michigan legislature to pass "right to work" legislation, a major policy goal of the Kochs'.
The DeVos family has been deeply involved in supporting conservative political causes, including through participation at Koch network donor summits, through the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, and through supporting the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Dick DeVos formerly chaired the MWPF, and the DeVos family donated almost $1.5 million to help elect Governor Rich Snyder, who eventually signed the right-to-work legislation in Michigan.
The Haworth family has also participated in Koch network summit meetings. Both the Haworths and the DeVoses were recognized at the Kochs' 2011 Vail summit for donating at least $1 million to Koch-approved causes.
The WMPF hosts a biannual conference that brings together policymakers and business representatives to discuss topics on WMPF's agenda. According to WMPF, the conferences bring together "national, state, and regional thought leaders and experts speaking on topics important to the Michigan business community" in order to "create common policy goals we can set into motion."
The 2012 conference included talks by Shantanu Sinha, president of the Khan Academy, which aims to provide educational software to schools and has financial backing from Bill Gates and Google; Joseph Lehman of the Koch-supported Mackinac Center for Public Policy; and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
Pushing 2012 "Right to Work" Legislation in Michigan
WMPF was reported to play a major role in pressuring Michigan legislators to pass "right to work" legislation in 2012. The legislation, strongly resembling model legislation produced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), effectively undermines unions' ability to collect dues from all the workers they represent. Referring to a threat to collect signatures for a ballot measure if the legislature did not pass a right-to-work bill, then-president of WMPF Jared Rodriguez said, "We are committed to making this happen by all means necessary."
Dick DeVos, then chair of WMPF, and the DeVos family donated almost $1.5 million to help elect Republican Rick Snyder to Governor of Michigan in 2010. WMPF board members Doug DeVos and Peter Secchia had also donated "significant sums" to defeat a previous ballot measure that would have added collective bargaining rights to the Michigan Constitution. The DeVoses were also key players in the "Right to Work" campaign through their support of the State Policy Network-member Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Executive Committee of the Board
As of June 2014:
- Jim Dunlap, Chairman. President, Huntington Bank.
- Doug DeVos, previous Chairman. President, Amway.
- Matthew R. Haworth, Vice Chairman. Chairman, Haworth, Inc.
- Jeff Connolly, Treasurer. President, West Michigan Operations and Managed Care, BCBS of Michigan.
- Rick Baker, Secretary. President and CEO, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.
- J. C. Huizenga. Chairman and Founder, National Heritage Academies.
- Michael Jandernoa. Managing Partner, 42 North Partners, LLC.
- Marge Potter. Executive Director of Corporate Affairs, Continental Rail Gateway.
- Peter Secchia. Managing Partner, SIBSCO, LLC.
- Ginny Seyferth. President, SeyferthPR.
- Mike Vangessel. CEO, Rockford Construction.
Board of Directors
- Rick Baker, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
- Doreen Bolhuis, GYMCO, Inc.
- Rick Breon, Spectrum Health
- Jeff Connolly, BCBS of Michigan
- Doug DeVos, Amway
- Jim Dunlap, Huntington Bank
- Matthew R. Haworth, [[Haworth, Inc]
- John Hendrickson, Perrigo, Allergan
- J. C. Huizenga, National Heritage Academies
- Michael Jandernoa, 42 North Partners
- Dorothy Johnson, Ahlburg Company
- Robert Kaminski, Mercantile Bank of Michigan
- John Kennedy, Autocam Corp.
- Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide, Inc.
- Doug Luciani, Traverse City Chamber of Commerce
- Diane Maher, DP Fox Ventures
- Larry Murphy, Varnum, LLP
- Mark Murray, Meijer
- Peter Perez, Carter Products
- Marge Potter, Continental Rail Gateway
- Bob Roth, RoMan Manufacturing
- Peter Secchia, SIBSCO, LLC
- Ginny Seyferth, SeyferthPR
- Roger Spoelman, Mercy Health
- Jim Teets, ADAC Automotive
- Jerry Tubergen, RDV Corporation
- Steven Van Andel, Amway
- Kathie Vanderploeg, Ship-Pac
- Mike Vangessel, Rockford Construction
- Doug Wagner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
- Sean Welsh, PNC
- Larry Williamson, Comcast
- Floyd Wilson, Jr., Metro Health
- Helen Zeerip ,Teddy's Transport
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Koch Brothers
- Koch Family Foundations
- Americans for Prosperity
- Freedom Partners
- Cato Institute
- Heritage Foundation
- Koch Universities
- Koch Network
- Knowledge and Progress Fund
- American Encore
- Donors Capital
- 60 Plus
- Generation Opportunity
- West Michigan Policy Forum, Our Priorities, organizational website, accessed June 24, 2014.
- Mike Allen and Jim Vandehi, "The Koch brothers' secret bank," Politico, September 11, 2013. Accessed June 24, 2014.
- Al Shaw, Theodoric Meyer, and Kim Barker, "How Dark Money Flows Through the Koch Network," ProPublica, February 14, 2014. Accessed June 24, 2014.
- Josh Eidelson, "Koch brothers, Tea Party cash drives Michigan right-to-work bill," Salon, December 11, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2014.
- West Michigan Policy Forum, 2012 Conference, organizational website, accessed June 24, 2014.
- Somini Sengupta, "Online Learning, Personalized," New York Times, December 4, 2011. Accessed June 24, 2014.
- David Eggert, "Right-to-work ballot issue likely in Michigan if lawmakers do not act now," Michigan Live, December 6, 2012. Accessed June 24, 2014.
- West Michigan Policy Forum, About Us, organizational website, accessed June 24, 2014.