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Investigation reveals $100,000 donation to Unlock Michigan
ballot effort to undermine Gov. Whitmer’s COVID protections

LANSING – As Michiganders were facing the COVID-19 virus head-on, DTE Energy funneled $100,000 into a campaign opposing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s pandemic policies – including mandates to end utility shut-offs – a scathing news story reveals.

The Guardian reports Michigan Energy First, which is a dark money non-profit linked to DTE, donated the $100,000 in 2020 to Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. In turn, Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility routed that money to Unlock Michigan, the group behind a ballot initiative to strip the governor of her emergency powers.

This comes after an investigative piece by ProPublica found DTE was shutting off service to tens of thousands of customers at the same time. DTE was also one of several utilities to receive hundreds of millions in COVID relief dollars from the federal government.

“With this effort to stymie public health protections and undermine Governor Whitmer, DTE has officially reached a new low.  Our new Legislature and the Michigan Public Service Commission must put DTE’s influence peddling tactics under a microscope because it has got to end,” said Bob Allison, deputy director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “On a good day, DTE already has trouble keeping the lights on for its customers. Reliability problems and high costs are just what we’ve come to expect from this monopoly utility, and Michiganders are tired of their money influencing our politics.”

Additional facts about DTE:

  • In the last five years, DTE Energy has jacked up rates to the tune of $775 million with little improvements to service.
  • While DTE had profits of $1.4 billion Michigan ratepayers are experiencing unreliable service.
  • Media reports show that DTE paid no federal taxes in 2020, with utility spokespersons saying it would ultimately trickle down into savings to customers.  Two years ago, both Consumers Energy and DTE spent more than $10 million paying their CEOs.
  • The Detroit News exposed that 140 out of 146 Michigan lawmakers received some kind of campaign donation from DTE or Consumers Energy, while the monopoly utilities funneled $55 million to political and civic spending.

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