Aug. 3 2017 10:05 AM
Paid 'volunteer'
Contrary to claim, Schor compensated PR firm for campaign work

As State Rep. Andy Schor was putting the finishing touches on his announcement that he would seek the Lansing Mayor’s Office earlier this year, he sought to quell a controversy by announcing that a local PR doing work for him was only volunteering.

But the campaign finance report Schor filed last week shows that the “volunteer,” TJ Bulchoz of Vanguard Communications, received $5,000.

“I had to be fair,” said Schor of the payment to Vanguard. “When I realized how much work they put in, I felt like I had to pay them.”

Schor’s first response, in a telephone interview on Saturday, was that he was obligated by law to pay for the services. He switched to saying he paid Bucholz out of fairness after being told he could have accepted his work as in kind.

The controversy arose in mid-February when Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, then still considering a run for reelection, attacked Schor for employing Bucholz, a spokesman for No Secret Lansing Deals, a dark-money organization that was making anonymous attacks on Bernero.

Both Schor and Bucholz responded by denying a financial arrangement was at play between them. The two men said Bucholz was just “volunteering” his time but didn’t rule out a paid position with the campaign in the future. Moreover, Schor said he and Bucholz were severing their relationship to remove any doubt.

But Schor’s campaign records show that less than one month later, on March 7, his organization paid Vanguard $5,000.

In light of the controversy, Schor hired Change Media Group to work on his campaign.

He also hired away a Vanguard staffer, Chelsea Coffey, to run his operations. Records show Schor paid Change Media Group, which is located in Old Town, $25,539. Coffey has received $12,500 since taking over the campaign, while fundraising consultant Heather Ricketts of Kalamazoo has been paid $7,000 by Schor’s campaign.

Campaign finance reports showed Schor with a significant financial advantage in the five-way primary Tuesday. He raised $232,336 and spent $99,291. That leaves him $133,045 cash on hand rolling into the last days of the primary.

His leading challenger, Judi Brown Clarke, said earlier this year she expected to raise and spend $150,000 in her bid of the mayor’s office, but her financial report shows she only raised $60,420 and spent $39,104. She has $9,667 cash on hand. Danny Trevino Jr. raised $1,650 and spent $1,462, leaving him with a $188 on hand. Both Michael Gillenkirk and Harold Leeman, Jr. received reporting waivers because they raised below $500.

Of the $232,336 raised by Schor, $90,000 came from his state representative campaign committee, while $50,100 came from various political action committees.

The Plumbers Union PAC donated $20,000 to Schor’s campaign, by far the single largest donation in the report outside of what his PAC transferred. The Michigan Region of Carpenters’ PAC was next with a $6,000 donation. The IBEW and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce each donated $5,000.

Removing cash from his PAC, Schor raised $142,336. The PAC donations, not counting his own PAC, represented 35 percent of his total haul.

Other notable donations to Schor’s campaign: His wife, Erin, donated $5,000; state Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, gave $500; former City Councilman Brian Jeffries, who was ousted four years ago by Brown Clarke, tossed in $1,000; four executives from the Christman Company tossed in $5,000 combined; while six attorneys from Foster Swift donated a combined $1,400.