“Craig’s campaign spokesman Ted Goodman declined to directly answer whether the former chief serves on other corporate boards.” – The Detroit News
From his paid speaking company and endless stream of national cable hits to discuss issues not pertaining to Michigan, MIGOP insider favorite and gubernatorial candidate James “Hollywood” Craig has apparently been busy – just not on his “relatively quiet” campaign.
New reporting from Detroit News adds one more self-enriching arrangement to the list. Two days before launching his campaign, Craig “scored a seat” as a paid board member of Palltronics – a company headquartered in Florida and headed by a director currently “entangled in a legal fight” over alleged misuse of a Michigan taxpayer-funded investment fund.
Craig’s campaign “declined to directly answer” both how much he has been compensated for the position or if he has assumed similar roles for other businesses since retiring from Detroit Police Department or deciding to run for office.
The Detroit News: James Craig Got Corporate Board Gig Days Before Launching Campaign For Governor
By Craig Mauger
Republican James Craig scored a seat on a company’s board of directors just days before announcing his campaign for governor, highlighting how little Michigan voters might know about candidates’ financial interests.
As he considered vying for the state’s top office, Craig announced in May his retirement as Detroit’s police chief. His 44-year law enforcement career ended June 1.
He officially announced his campaign for governor on Sept. 14. Two days before that announcement, the firm Palltronics, which makes shipping pallets, internally revealed that Craig would get a seat on its board of directors, a paid position.
Craig’s campaign spokesman Ted Goodman declined to directly answer whether the former chief serves on other corporate boards.
“Chief Craig is recognized not only for his successful law enforcement career, but also for his ability to lead organizations and motivate others,” Goodman said in a response to questions from The Detroit News. “His expertise is highly sought after.” […]
Damian Kassab, director of Palltronics, who confirmed that Craig had been selected for the board, described himself as a longtime member of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department’s Marine Division. […]
Kassab has recently been entangled in a legal fight with Grow Michigan, a lender that focuses on community reinvestment that’s funded through a collaboration of banks doing business in Michigan, the Michigan Strategic Fund and the state through the Michigan Economic Development Corp., according to court documents.
As for Craig, Palltronics needed “insight into global supply chain security issues,” on which Craig could help provide guidance, Kassab said. […]
Craig will receive compensation for the board position, Kassab confirmed, but would not detail how much money was involved.
Michigan is one of just two states with no requirement that officeholders file some type of disclosure covering their personal financial interests to prevent potential conflicts.
It’s a “gaping hole” in state law, said Simon Schuster, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a nonprofit that works to shine light on the role of money in state politics.
“The idea here is our elected officials make important policy decisions that can have significant repercussions for business,” Schuster said, adding that the public should know whether officials stand to benefit from those choices.
Ahead of Michigan’s last gubernatorial election in 2018, most of the top candidates, including Whitmer and Republican Bill Schuette, voluntarily released their tax returns. Former GOP Gov. Rick Snyder did the same when he was running for office in 2010.
Rep. David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids, who has led the push for requiring financial disclosures in Lansing, said Craig’s situation was “a concern.” […]
A key question is if and how much Craig is being compensated for his role on the Palltronics board, argued LaGrand, an attorney by trade. His preferred reform, which hasn’t advanced in the GOP-controlled state House, would require public disclosure if a board position brought more than $5,000 in pay.
“It’s really important that the voters can have absolute confidence that the people they elect are single-mindedly serving the electorate,” LaGrand said.
The website of Palltronics describes its pallets as the only ones in the “world equipped with electronics which offers unprecedented technology.” […]
Grow Michigan, the state-tied lender, sued Kassab and others in 2020 in federal court over the handling of a $5 million loan for a business called Lightning Technologies. Grow Michigan has contended the loan wasn’t sought to make the company operational, but to benefit Kassab in a proxy battle for control. Federal Judge Linda Parker in Michigan’s Eastern District dismissed the suit this year, but Grow Michigan appealed. […]
While the firm was incorporated in Michigan and uses a Rochester address on its website, its main facility is in North Carolina and its headquarters are in Florida, Kassab said. […]