|Eileen and Mike Kowall|
By Brandon Hall
(Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)
In yet another blatant display of how things really work in Lansing, State Sen. Mike Kowall is pushing a bill backed by his wife's lobbying firm.
How did she end up there, anyway? She used to be in the State House, but was termed out in 2014 and immediately became a lobbyist...
We really need to update that old "Schoolhouse Rock" video of how a bill becomes a law, and it should probably be rated "R," at the LEAST...
According to the Detroit Free Press:
"A state senator's bill to legalize Internet gambling, backed by a firm where his wife works as a lobbyist, is raising concerns among groups pushing for toughening of Michigan's weakest-in-the-nation ethics laws.
Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake Township, is the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 889, which would allow existing casinos to offer Internet gambling.
He says there is no conflict of interest because his wife, lobbyist Eileen Kowall, is not working directly on the project. But groups such as Common Cause in Michigan expressed concern after learning about the case from the Free Press.
"It seems like a pretty troubling set of circumstances," said Melanie McElroy, the group's executive director.
Amaya, a multinational company which owns Internet gaming sites PokerStars and Full Tilt, among others, is a major backer of Kowall's bill. Three officials from Amaya testified in support of SB 889 at a May 4 hearing before the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee, on which Kowall sits.
Amaya's registered lobbyist in Lansing is MGS Consultants, which counts Kowall's wife, Eileen, among the firm's five lobbyists. Eileen Kowall, who registered as a lobbyist less than two months after leaving the state House because of term limits at the end of 2014, attended the hearing along with other MGS lobbyists, though she didn't testify."