Non-profit

Michigan United

Location:

Detroit, MI

Tax ID:

38-3058190

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2018):

Revenue: $2,178,169
Expenses: $2,210,316
Assets: $752,064

Formation:

2012

Executive Director:

Ken Whittaker

Michigan United is a left-of-center advocacy group in Michigan that focuses on expanding protections for illegal immigrants, in addition to promoting left-of-center policy on criminal justice, the environment, and health care. [1] [2] Michigan United leaders have supported far-left calls for civil disobedience against immigration enforcement and opposed legislation to ban so-called “sanctuary cities,” municipalities that refuse to assist federal immigration enforcement, in Michigan. [3] [4]

A year before joining Michigan United, current executive director Ken Whittaker was involved in an election controversy for creating a plan to have a write-in candidate with no known political experience run as a write-in candidate to be mayor of Detroit in 2013. [5] The write-in candidate’s name, Mike Dugeon, was pronounced in the exact same way as then-candidate and election favorite Mike Duggan (D), who was also a write-in candidate after a court order took him off the ballot. Dugeon’s campaign was seen as a way to confuse voters in order to undermine Mayor Duggan’s legitimate run by trying to confuse voters. [6] Whittaker reportedly supported Mayor Duggan’s opponent, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon (D). [7]

Political Activism

In 2012, the Michigan Organizing Project (MOP) and the Alliance for Immigrant Rights (AIR) merged to form Michigan United. [8] Both of the organizations focused on promoting left-of-center immigration policy, with MOP supporting proposals for illegal immigrants to receive driver’s licenses and AIR claiming to have recorded cases of profiling in Detroit by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). [9] [10]

Since the merger, Michigan United has expanded its scope to include projects on health care, criminal justice, and environmentalism.

Immigration

Michigan United has adopted far-left policies on immigration, advocating for local law enforcement officials to refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement authorities. Michigan United accused Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP of being “notorious” for the “rampant use of racial profiling” and threatened that municipalities which work with federal immigration authorities may be liable for civil rights violations. [11]

Michigan United has also supported the implementation of government-funded services for illegal immigrants, including citizenship classes and English as a second language classes. The organization has urged municipalities to issue identification cards to illegal immigrants, in addition to creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently living in the United States. [12]

In 2017, some Detroit-area churches considered housing undocumented immigrants that were in fear of being deported. [13] Ryan Bates, then-executive director of Michigan United, told a crowd that churches should break the law and house the undocumented immigrants in the “spirit of civil disobedience, in the same tradition of sitting down at lunch counters and the freedom rides and getting arrested for a good cause,” comparing left-of-center immigration policy to the civil rights movement. [14]

In February 2019, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) canceled the sale of a former state prison to a company that sought to turn the facility into a $35 million immigration detention center. [15] Jack Eggleston, a board member for Michigan United, praised Whitmer’s decision. [16] That same year, Michigan United protested two proposed state laws which sought to bar any local governments from passing laws to prohibit cooperation with immigration authorities. [17]

Other Issues

In addition to supporting left-of-center immigration policy, Michigan United has advocated for a broad of left-of-center agenda. Michigan United supports so-called “restorative justice” proposals as an alternative to incarceration and has argued for a decrease in the prison population, alleging that tough on crime policies have “systematically over-policed and criminalized” ethnic minorities. [18]

Michigan United also engages in environmentalist activism, targeting Marathon Petroleum with a campaign for over 8 years by claiming that the company had polluted areas in Detroit. The campaign forced Marathon to spend $5 million to buy out African-American homeowners in the area. Michigan United has also support left-of-center environmentalist calls to force the state of Michigan to commit to a carbon-neutral energy plan. [19]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan United formed a healthcare team to advocate for increased government control over healthcare programs, claiming that “access to affordable reliable healthcare is a human right.” [20] Michigan United then-executive director Bates organized a direct protest against right-of-center COVID-19 policies. In October 2020, Michigan State Senator Mike Shirkey (R—Branch) stated he was in favor of rolling back government mandates that shut down in-service dining in order to promote “herd immunity.” [21] Bates showed up at the Michigan Capitol a few days after Sen. Shirkey’s comments wearing a hooded Grim Reaper costume and carrying boxes labeled “COVID death certificates.” [22]

Mike Duggan Write-In Controversy

In the 2013 primary election for mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan (D) had to run as a write-in candidate after a court challenge removed from the ballot. [23] Another write-in candidate emerged named Mike Dugeon, whose name is pronounced exactly like Duggan. [24] Dugeon had no known political experience, and new outlets deemed that his candidacy was a political ploy to help Duggan’s main primary opponent, Benny Napoleon. [25] [26]

Detroit TV station WXYZ reported that current-Michigan United executive director Ken Whittaker was the “behind-the-scenes” operative who promoted Dugeon as a write-in candidate. [27] WXYZ reported that Dugeon thought that Whittaker had created a Facebook page supportive of Dugeon’s campaign and that Whittaker approached him to be his “social networking campaign manager.” [28]

Whittaker admitted he spoke “supportively” to Dugeon but said he had no “formal” affiliation with Dugeon’s campaign for mayor. [29] Whittaker had a political yard sign supportive of one of Duggan’s rivals, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon (D), outside of his home, but he claimed that it was his wife’s yard sign. [30] Critics accused Dugeon’s campaign of being an attempt to confuse voters and undermine Duggan’s run for mayor in order to support Napoleon’s chances. [31]

Leadership

The Michigan United board of directors includes many people affiliated with left-of-center labor unions as well as Abdul El-Sayed, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Michigan. [32] El-Sayed ran on a far-left platform including the implementation of a $15 minimum wage and the creation of legislation to prohibit Michigan law enforcement officials from working with federal immigration enforcement. [33] El-Sayed campaigned on the immediate shutdown of Enbridge Line 5, a natural gas line which delivers 55% of all propane in Michigan. [34] El-Sayed also promoted strict gun laws, including a ban on so-called assault weapons, and opposed legislation requiring that Medicaid recipients be employed. [35] [36]

Aamina Ahmed, interim chair of the board of directors, was on a public school district’s policy advisory committee. The committee recommended that Plymouth-Canton public schools adopt a transgender policy to allows students, employees, and visitors to use any restroom or locker room they choose, regardless of gender. [37]

Seydi Sarr, the treasurer of Michigan United, ran for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2018 as a Democrat before losing in the Democratic primary. [38]

Nicole Alequin is listed as the deputy executive director at Michigan United. [39] Alequin worked as the organizing coordinator for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Michigan for six years. [40]

Ken Whittaker, described as a “Democratic activist,” took over as executive director of Michigan United on April 5, 2021. [41] [42] Whittaker held a number positions within the Michigan state and national Democratic Party before joining Michigan United. [43] The Michigan Democratic Party has previously named him Young Democrat of the Year. [44]

Financing

Michigan United is still incorporated under the Michigan Organizing Project name. The organization reported $1.2 million in revenue in 2019. [45] While working as executive director, Bates had an annual compensation of $79,581, which included a base salary of $67,423 and fringe benefits of $12,158. [46]

References

  1. Niraj Warikoo. Detroit Free Press. Aug. 6, 2020. “Fugitive Immigrant In Detroit Church Wanted By ICE Pleads To Stay In US”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/08/06/immigrant-fugitive-ded-rranxburgaj-detroit-church/3301119001/; ^
  2. Michigan United home page. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.miunited.org/post/voting-rights-advocates-celebrate-big-turn-out-successful-count ^
  3. Niraj Warikoo. Detroit Free Press, March 13, 2017. “Metro Detroit Churches, Synagogues, Become Sanctuaries For Immigrants”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.freep.com/story/news/2017/03/13/churches-synagogues-sanctuaries-undocumented-immigrants/98865826/ ^
  4. Riley Beggin. Bridge Magazine. April 11, 2019. “Bills To Bar Michigan ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Face Headwinds In Lansing”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/bills-bar-michigan-sanctuary-cities-face-headwinds-lansing ^
  5. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  6. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  7. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  8. Michigan United home page. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.miunited.org/who-we-are ^
  9. Niraj Warikoo. Detroit Free Press, July 30, 2011. “I Carry My Passport With Me Everyday’’; ICE, Border Patrol Deny That They Target People Who Look Latino” ^
  10. Amy Franklin, Associated Press. Jan. 28, 2002. “Migrant Workers, Churches, Criticize New Terrorism Bill” ^
  11. “Immigration Reform.” Michigan United. Accessed May 4, 2021. https://www.miunited.org//immigration-reform. ^
  12. “Immigration Reform.” Michigan United. Accessed May 4, 2021. https://www.miunited.org//immigration-reform. ^
  13. Niraj Warikoo. Detroit Free Press, March 13, 2017. “Metro Detroit Churches, Synagogues, Become Sanctuaries For Immigrants”; Accessed 4/20/2021.  https://www.freep.com/story/news/2017/03/13/churches-synagogues-sanctuaries-undocumented-immigrants/98865826/ ^
  14. Niraj Warikoo. Detroit Free Press, March 13, 2017. “Metro Detroit Churches, Synagogues, Become Sanctuaries For Immigrants”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.freep.com/story/news/2017/03/13/churches-synagogues-sanctuaries-undocumented-immigrants/98865826/ ^
  15. Paul Egan. Detroit Free Press. Feb. 17, 2019. “Whitmer Nixes Private Immigrant Detention Center Proposed In Ionia”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/02/17/gretchen-whitmer-private-immigration-prison-ionia/2898680002/ ^
  16. Paul Egan. Detroit Free Press. Feb. 17, 2019. “Whitmer Nixes Private Immigrant Detention Center Proposed In Ionia”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/02/17/gretchen-whitmer-private-immigration-prison-ionia/2898680002/ ^
  17. House Fiscal Agency analysis. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2019-2020/billanalysis/House/pdf/2019-HLA-4083-C160B454.pdf ^
  18. “Criminal Justice Reform.” Michigan United. Accessed May 4, 2021. https://www.miunited.org//criminal-justice-reform. ^
  19. “Environmental Justice.” Michigan United. Accessed May 4, 2021. https://www.miunited.org//environmental-justice. ^
  20. “Healthcare.” Michigan United. Accessed May 4, 2021. https://www.miunited.org//healthcare. ^
  21. Lauren Gibbons. MLive. Oct. 10, 2020. “Michigan Needs ‘An Element Of Herd Immunity’ To Recover From Coronavirus, Senate Leader Says”; Accessed 4/20/2021.  https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/10/michigan-needs-an-element-of-herd-immunity-to-recover-from-coronavirus-senate-leader-says.html ^
  22. Carol Thompson. Lansing State Journal. Oct. 21, 2020. “Experts Say A Coronavirus Herd Immunity Strategy Would Be Deadly. So Did Grim Reapers At The Capitol” Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/get-access/?return=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lansingstatejournal.com%2Fstory%2Fnews%2F2020%2F10%2F21%2Fgrim-reaper-visits-capitol-protest-herd-immunity-strategy%2F6005133002%2F ^
  23. Sarah Cwiek, Steve Carmody. Michigan Radio, Aug. 7, 2013. “Duggan Makes History With Winning Write-In Campaign; Napoleon Rallies Supporters”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.michiganradio.org/post/duggan-makes-history-winning-write-campaign-napoleon-rallies-supporters ^
  24. Sarah Cwiek, Steve Carmody. Michigan Radio, Aug. 7, 2013. “Duggan Makes History With Winning Write-In Campaign; Napoleon Rallies Supporters”; Accessed 4/20/2021.  https://www.michiganradio.org/post/duggan-makes-history-winning-write-campaign-napoleon-rallies-supporters ^
  25. Associated Press. July 25, 2013. “Detroit Barber Named Mike Dugeon Files As Write-In Candidate For Detroit Mayor”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20130725/NEWS01/130729906/detroit-barber-named-mike-dugeon-files-as-write-in-candidate-for ^
  26. Gus Burns. MLive. July 27, 2013. “Report: Political Pawn Or Not, Mike Dugeon Says His Write-In Candidacy Continues”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/2013/07/report_political_pawn_or_not_m.html ^
  27. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  28. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  29. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  30. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  31. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  32. Violet Ikonomova. Detroit Metro Times. April 17, 2018. “State Lawyers Say El-Sayed Eligibility Controversy ‘Creation Of Media And The Michigan Democratic Party”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2018/04/17/state-lawyers-say-el-sayed-eligibility-controversy-creation-of-media-and-the-michigan-democratic-party ^
  33. Paul Egan. Kathleen Gray. Detroit Free Press. July 28, 2018. “Where They Stand: Dem Candidates For Governor On Michigan Issues”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/28/where-they-stand-dem-candidates-gov-michigan-issues/843278002/ ^
  34. WILX. “Meet The Candidates: Abdul El-Sayed (D) For Governor”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.wilx.com/content/news/MEET-THE-CANDIDATES-Abdul-El-Sayed-D-for-Governor-489646171.html ^
  35. Enbridge home page. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.enbridge.com/Line5 ^
  36. Paul Egan. Kathleen Gray. Detroit Free Press. July 28, 2018. “Where They Stand: Dem Candidates For Governor On Michigan Issues”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/28/where-they-stand-dem-candidates-gov-michigan-issues/843278002/ ^
  37. Ed Wright. Hometownlife.com. Dec. 8, 2020. “Proposed Transgender Policy For Plymouth-Canton Schools Irks Some Parents, Pleases Others”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.hometownlife.com/story/news/2020/12/08/plymouth-canton-schools-transgender-policy-proposal-sparks-emotions/3856991001/ ^
  38. Ballotpedia home page. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Seydi_Sarr ^
  39. Michigan United home page. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.miunited.org/staff ^
  40. Nicole Alequin’s LinkedIn account. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicole-alequ%C3%ADn-avil%C3%A9s-a43933151/ ^
  41. Alan Stamm. Deadline Detroit. July 27, 2013. “Update: Ken Whittaker Explains Role In Mike Dugeon Write-In Bid”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.deadlinedetroit.com/articles/5802/update_ken_whittaker_explains_role_in_mike_dugeon_write-in_bid ^
  42. Steve Neavling, Metro Times, Feb. 26, 2021. “Kenneth Whittaker To Take Over Michigan United, Pledges To Fight White Supremacy”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2021/02/26/kenneth-whittaker-to-take-over-michigan-united-pledges-to-end-white-supremacy ^
  43. Steve Neavling, Metro Times, Feb. 26, 2021. “Kenneth Whittaker To Take Over Michigan United, Pledges To Fight White Supremacy”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2021/02/26/kenneth-whittaker-to-take-over-michigan-united-pledges-to-end-white-supremacy ^
  44. Steve Neavling, Metro Times, Feb. 26, 2021. “Kenneth Whittaker To Take Over Michigan United, Pledges To Fight White Supremacy”; Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2021/02/26/kenneth-whittaker-to-take-over-michigan-united-pledges-to-end-white-supremacy ^
  45. Guidestar. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.guidestar.org/profile/38-3058190 ^
  46. Guidestar. Accessed 4/20/2021. https://www.guidestar.org/profile/38-3058190 ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1992

  • 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 $2,178,169 $2,210,316 $752,064 $-8,748 N $2,163,697 $12,840 $1,632 $67,423 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,474,305 $1,449,867 $790,612 $31,666 N $1,472,807 $0 $1,498 $58,510 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,140,930 $1,220,670 $515,981 $19,080 N $1,139,738 $0 $1,192 $60,006
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,018,625 $869,992 $605,395 $15,252 N $1,017,679 $0 $946 $56,800 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,885,756 $1,611,173 $469,993 $27,360 N $1,884,997 $0 $0 $54,377 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,124,185 $1,039,143 $193,123 $25,073 N $1,123,863 $0 $322 $49,800 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $492,977 $448,335 $110,418 $8,202 N $492,684 $0 $293 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $221,564 $281,749 $64,166 $2,102 N $214,594 $6,763 $207 $41,200 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Michigan United

    4405 WESSON ST
    Detroit, MI 48210-2416