Non-profit

Mackinac Center for Public Policy

This is a logo owned by Mackinac Center for Public Policy for infobox. (link)
Website:

www.mackinac.org

Location:

MIDLAND, MI

Tax ID:

38-2701547

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2018):

Revenue: $11,321,456
Expenses: $8,408,449
Assets: $14,538,585

Type:

Center-Right Think Tank

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a free-market think tank focused on the state of Michigan that was founded in 1987 and recommends policies that advocate for limited government and free markets. The think tank has opposed compulsory membership in public-sector unions. [1]

The Mackinac Center won a Michigan Supreme Court case in 2020 that stripped Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) of her powers to issue executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic without legislative approval. [2]

The Mackinac Center had a role in ending a union “dues skim” that allowed a government-worker union to take a share of the benefit checks of Michigan residents enrolled in the Medicaid program that let elderly and disabled people receive home care. [3] The left-of-center Progress Michigan has claimed that the Mackinac Center was involved in making Michigan a right-to-work state in 2012, which ended making joining a union a requirement of employment for public sector employees. [4]

In 2011, the Mackinac Center filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with three public universities that received national attention and led to the think tank receiving a bomb threat. [5]

History

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is located in Midland, Michigan and is a nonprofit organization that had 53 employees in 2019. [6] The Mackinac Center launched its news site, Michigan Capitol Confidential, in 2010. [7]

Board of Directors

The Mackinac Center Board of Directors has 12 members including the vice chairman, treasurer, and secretary. Clifford Taylor is the chairman of the board of directors and served as a judge on the Michigan Supreme Court from 1997 until 2008. [8] J.C. Huizenga is also a board member and is chairman and founder of the National Heritage Academies, a charter-school management company that operates more than 90 schools in nine states. [9]

Activities

COVID Lockdown Challenge

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, the think tank’s legal arm, won a Michigan Supreme Court case against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) over her powers to issue executive orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. [10] The Supreme Court ruled in October 2020 that Gov. Whitmer’s attempt to continue a state of emergency after April 30, 2020 was illegal and also ruled that her use of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 was unconstitutional. [11]

Government Worker Union Opt-Out Advocacy

The United States Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 that public-sector employees no longer had to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. [12]

After that June 2018 ruling, the Mackinac Center reached out to teachers in 11 states with its “My Pay, My Say” campaign to educate teachers on their new rights to leave their unions without losing their job. The Mackinac Center said the campaign was aimed to allow teachers to make an informed decision on union membership. [13]

Union Dues Skim

The Mackinac Center was involved in a campaign to end a union dues skim by the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit over the union practice in 2009 that the Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed in 2010. [14] In 2013, the Michican legislature passed a law that ended the dues skimming. [15]

During the dues skimming, the SEIU Healthcare Michigan took a share of the benefit checks of Michigan residents enrolled in the Medicaid program that allowed elderly and disabled people to receive care at home. [16] The Mackinac Center claimed that $34 million had been sent to the SEIU over a six-year period before the dues skim was halted in 2013. [17] SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s revenue from dues and fees dropped 52% after the dues skim stopped, going from $11.3 million in 2012 to $5.4 million in 2014. [18]

Right-to-Work Advocacy

The Michigan legislature passed a bill that made Michigan a right-to-work state in December of 2012. The law took effect in March 2013. [19] The bill granted employees the right to choose whether or not to join a union without losing their jobs and ended the mandated payment of union dues for public sector employees. [20]

The left-of-center Progress Michigan has claimed that the Mackinac Center was part of the movement that got the right-to-work legislation passed. [21]

Investigations of State University Labor Centers

The Mackinac Center submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan in 2011. The FOIA requested emails from college professors in the labor studies department that included terms such as “Scott Walker,” the then-governor of Wisconsin, and “Rachel Maddow,” the left-of-center MSNBC talk show host. [22]

Those specific terms were used to limit the scope and cost of the FOIA, which was seeking “discussions of possible illegal activities” among college professors. [23]

Maddow mentioned the FOIA request on her show and the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education also reported on it. [24] After the publicity, Wayne State University removed part of its Labor Studies Center website, and lawyers reviewed whether part of that website violated state law that forbid use of state resources for political advocacy. [25] The Mackinac Center received death threats and a bomb threat over the controversy. [26]

Michigan Education Association Feud

The Michigan Education Association (MEA), a major teachers union in the state of Michigan, sued the Mackinac Center in 2002 because the think tank used the MEA president’s quote from a speech in a fundraising letter. [27]

The Lansing State Journal editorial board criticized the lawsuit, saying that the MEA had given “new meaning to the term ‘frivolous’ lawsuit’.” [28] The Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit in March 2004. [29]

The MEA created a website dedicated to attacks against the Mackinac Center at MEAMatters.com. It lists what it claims to be 47 funders of the Mackinac Center from 2001 to 2013 taken from public tax filings. [30]

Finances

The Mackinac Center had $8.6 million in total revenues and $9.9 million in total expenses in 2019 according to its most recent 990 Form.

References

  1. Mackinac Center for Public Policy website. Accessed 5/23/2021. https://www.mackinac.org/about ^
  2. Jennifer Henderson, Steve Almasy. CNN. Oct. 12, 2020. “Michigan Supreme Court Rules Against Governor Again, Ending Covid-19 Executive Orders”; Accessed 5/23/2021. https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/12/politics/michigan-supreme-court-whitmer-covid-emergency/index.html ^
  3. Ted O’Neil. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. March 4, 2013. “SEIU Dues Skim Comes To An End”; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.mackinac.org/18363 ^
  4. Mark Tower. MLive. Jan. 29, 2013. “Midland’s Mackinac Center Accused Of Tax Fraud By Progress Michigan”; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.mlive.com/politics/2013/01/midlands_mackinac_center_accus.html ^
  5. Ann Arbor News. April 7, 2011. “Wayne State removes part of Labor Studies website in wake of Mackinac Center FOIA”; Accessed 5/19/2021; http://www.annarbor.com/news/wayne-state-removes-part-of-labor-studies-website-in-wake-of-mackinac-center-foia-michigan-state-pro/ ^
  6. Mackinac Center For Public Policy, Form 990, 2019. Part I Summary. Accessed 5/23/2021. https://www.guidestar.org/profile/38-2701547 ^
  7. Anna Clark. Columbia Journalism Review. July 16, 2013. “Michigan’s ‘Free-Market’ Media Machine” Accessed 5/24/2021. https://archives.cjr.org/united_states_project/mackinac_center_for_public_policy_is_major_player_in_state_media.php ^
  8. Mackinac Center for Public Policy website. Accessed 5/23/2021. https://www.mackinac.org/Board_of_Directors ^
  9. National Heritage Academies website. Accessed 5/23/2021. https://www.nhaschools.com/en ^
  10. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Gov. Whitmer’s Unilateral Extension Of COVID-19 State Of Emergency Deemed Illegal And Unconstitutional By Michigan Supreme Court”; Accessed 5/19/2021. https://www.mackinac.org/HealthcareEO ^
  11. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Gov. Whitmer’s Unilateral Extension Of COVID-19 State Of Emergency Deemed Illegal And Unconstitutional By Michigan Supreme Court”; Accessed 5/19/2021. https://www.mackinac.org/HealthcareEO ^
  12. Adam Liptak. The New York Times. June 27, 2018. “Supreme Court Ruling Delivers A Sharp Blow To Labor Unions; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/us/politics/supreme-court-unions-organized-labor.html ^
  13. Sarah Schwartz. National Public Radio. Aug. 7, 2018. “Teachers Are Getting Targeted Anti-Union Emails From Conservative Groups”; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/teachers-are-getting-targeted-anti-union-emails-from-conservative-groups ^
  14. Beata Mostafavi. Flint Journal. Jan. 5, 2010. “Lawsuit Against Department Of Human Services On Behalf Of Flint Daycare Provider Dismissed”; Accessed 5/23/2021. https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2010/01/mackinac_center_lawsuit_filed.html ^
  15. Jack Spencer. Michigan Capitol Confidential. April 8, 2013. “Confirmed: The SEIU ‘Dues Skim’ Finally Ends”; Accessed 5/23/2021. https://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/18499 ^
  16. Jack Spencer. Michigan Capitol Confidential. June 17, 2015. “SEIU Affiliate’s Revenue Cut In Half After ‘Dues Skim’ Ended”; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/21420 ^
  17. Ted O’Neil. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. March 4, 2013. “SEIU Dues Skim Comes To An End”; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.mackinac.org/18363 ^
  18. Jack Spencer. Michigan Capitol Confidential. June 17, 2015. “SEIU Affiliate’s Revenue Cut In Half After ‘Dues Skim’ Ended”; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/21420 ^
  19. Jonathan Oosting. March 28, 2013. “Michigan Is Officially A Right-To-Work State, But Critics Vow To Continue Fight”; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.mlive.com/politics/2013/03/michigan_is_officially_a_right.html ^
  20. State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website. Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154–292490–,00.html#:~:text=Under%20Michigan’s%20new%20freedom%2Dto,their%20jobs%20because%20of%20it ^
  21. Mark Tower. MLive. Jan. 29, 2013. “Midland’s Mackinac Center Accused Of Tax Fraud By Progress Michigan”; Accessed 5/20/2021. https://www.mlive.com/politics/2013/01/midlands_mackinac_center_accus.html ^
  22. Ann Arbor News. April 7, 2011. “Wayne State removes part of Labor Studies website in wake of Mackinac Center FOIA”; Accessed 5/19/2021; http://www.annarbor.com/news/wayne-state-removes-part-of-labor-studies-website-in-wake-of-mackinac-center-foia-michigan-state-pro/ ^
  23. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. June 20, 2011. “Center FOIA Foils Misuse Of Resources” Accessed 5/25/2021. https://www.mackinac.org/15249 ^
  24. Ted O’Neil. Mackinac Center for Public Policy. March 30, 2011. “Center FOIA Requests Draw Media Attention”; Accessed 5/19/2021. https://www.mackinac.org/14835 ^
  25. Ann Arbor News. April 7, 2011. “Wayne State removes part of Labor Studies website in wake of Mackinac Center FOIA”; Accessed 5/19/2021; http://www.annarbor.com/news/wayne-state-removes-part-of-labor-studies-website-in-wake-of-mackinac-center-foia-michigan-state-pro/ ^
  26. Andrew Dodson. MLive. April 3, 2011. “Midland’s Mackinac Center Received Bomb, Death Threats Over FOIA Request”; https://www.mlive.com/midland/2011/04/midlands_mackinac_center_received_bomb_death_threats_over_foia_request.html ^
  27. Dee-Ann Durbin. The Associated Press. May 22, 2002. “Michigan Education Association Sues Mackinac Center Over Letter.” ^
  28. Lansing State Journal editorial board. May 27, 2002. “MEA Lawsuit”; ^
  29. Tim Martin. The Associated Press. March 22, 2004. “Court Rejects Suit About Endorsing A Rival”; ^
  30. MEAMatters.com website. Accessed 5/19/2021. https://meamatters.com/mackinac-center-funders/ ^

Associated Organizations

  1. American Juris Link (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1988

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2018 Dec Form 990 $11,321,456 $8,408,449 $14,538,585 $457,097 Y $10,975,003 $253,648 $92,805 $389,223 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $8,513,761 $6,620,239 $11,570,773 $335,848 N $8,275,812 $152,952 $84,997 $311,920 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $4,765,507 $6,608,146 $9,361,342 $175,855 N $4,672,919 $2,807 $89,781 $376,248
    2015 Dec Form 990 $6,434,630 $6,003,578 $11,123,297 $211,632 N $6,347,222 $242 $87,166 $284,224 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $4,972,208 $4,351,888 $10,703,511 $167,360 N $4,881,192 $8,626 $82,390 $208,977 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $5,593,469 $4,339,266 $9,901,262 $118,221 N $5,489,269 $1,281 $102,919 $246,397 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $3,222,455 $4,395,247 $8,593,757 $142,335 N $3,036,901 $17,837 $167,717 $207,043 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $5,778,257 $3,925,505 $9,610,116 $86,541 N $5,583,456 $48,521 $146,280 $203,641 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Mackinac Center for Public Policy

    140 W MAIN ST
    MIDLAND, MI 48640-5156