Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Curious Case Of SB 571: Controversial MIGOP Lawyer Eric Doster Involved In Shady Last Minute Amendment?

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at
Brian Dickerson's latest column does an excellent job spotlighting the mystery behind SB 571, the "Nightmare Before Christmas."
And if you still think SB 571 is about "holding local governments accountable," think again.
Let's start here:

"Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill into law late Wednesday afternoon over the objections of myriad critics, including legislators from his own party who insisted they’d been duped...

Republican lawmakers in both chambers have complained that the leaders of their respective caucuses — House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant,  and Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive — failed to brief them adequately about what was in a voluminous eleventh-hour amendment appended to Kowall’s bill, without notice or public hearing, late on Legislature's last voting day in 2015...

Rep. Dave Pagel, a second-term Republican the southwest corner of Michigan, was among 58 House Republicans who voted to adopt SB 571 just before the House adjourned in the late evening of Dec. 16.

"It's troubling when you take a vote and later realize that you were ignorant of some facts you should have known," Pagel told me Wednesday, a few hours before Snyder signed the bill into law.
Pagel said he was misled...

Even Sen. Mike Kowall, the veteran White Lake Republican who sponsored the original 12-page bill, seemed taken aback Wednesday when I asked him whether he realized his Republican House colleagues had added an amendment raising the ceiling on PAC contributions.
“Well,” Kowall said after a pause, “I do now.”

>>>Most have raised objections to the single paragraph that muzzles local governments for two months before an election...But the local government gag provision is only one of several controversial provisions slipped into Kowall’s bill at the last minute, including:

  • Language that permits contributions from PACS and other donors to be applied to expenses incurred in the previous campaign cycle, even if the total amount exceeds the limits applicable for that cycle.
  • Language that forbids employers to deduct money from their employees’ paychecks that is subsequently deposited in a union’s PAC, even if the employee consents to the deduction and the employer has contracted to make it.
Several legislators I spoke to this week insisted they were not aware of either provision, although spokespeople for Cotter and Meekhof insist the complete text of the amended bill was made available to members, however briefly, before the final votes in the House and Senate."

Now it gets more interesting:

"Kowall said he would be amenable to new legislation stripping some of the more controversial language from his amended bill. But he and other GOP lawmakers I spoke to said they weren't even sure which of their colleagues might be responsible for inserting the last-minute changes, some of which appear to benefit —  or target — specific candidates or special interests.

“Part of this troubling process is you don’t know who’s behind this or what they their motives were," Pagel said."

It turns out, sources tell WMP the man behind most of the amendment is controversial Michigan Republican Party lawyer Eric Doster.

Dickerson confronted Doster, who had a piss-poor denial:

"Doster was cagier when I asked if he’d participated, as one of the GOP's top campaign strategists, in drafting other controversial provisions of SB 571, such as the one that bars labor unions from collecting political contributions from their members via payroll deduction.

“I don’t know how to respond to that,” he said. “I’m asked about pending legislation all the time.”

“But did you draft the bill?” I asked.

“I think I answered your question,” Doster said."

If the name sounds familiar, it's because Doster got involved in the primary races to replace Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat despite his top role at the MIGOP...

Read more here:

Eric Doster

Who is Eric Doster? Here's his bio:

"A life-long resident of Michigan, Eric Doster was named Valedictorian of his high school with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Eric Doster received a Bachelor of Arts with distinction from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor cum laude from Wayne State University Law School. While at Wayne State University Law School, he was awarded a scholarship as a member of the Moot Court National Team, and received various awards for brief writing. He was admitted to the Bar in 1988.
Eric is the longest-serving General Counsel in the history of the Michigan Republican Party, having served in this position since 1992. Between 1989 and 1992, Eric served as Assistant General Counsel to the Michigan Republican Party. A former high school valedictorian, cemetery caretaker, librarian, and basketball referee, Eric is one of Michigan’s leading authorities on election law, campaign finance law, and other laws affecting the political process. His client list includes political party organizations, lobbyist firms, various trade associations, Fortune 500 companies, public officials, ballot question committees, tax-exempt organizations, and other clients who engage in the political process.
In 2013, Eric released “Michigan Campaign Finance” – the first reference book ever written on Michigan campaign finance law. Doster, a recognized leader in this area of the law, designed the book to help people understand this complex topic."
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at

Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson


  1. "the longest-serving General Counsel in the history of the Michigan Republican Party"


  2. I have just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the hottest virtual strippers strip-tease on my desktop.