Walter Briggs Connolly Jr. Condemns the Philip A. Hart Democratic Club for Tarnishing his Uncle’s Good Name
The Mt. Clemens-Based Democratic Club Has Spent More than $100,000 on Attack Ads Against Loyal Democrat Steve Bieda in the Macomb County Clerk’s Race
WARREN, MI — Walter Briggs Connolly Jr. today condemned the Philip A. Hart Democratic Club for sullying the good name of his uncle by marriage, the late Michigan U.S. Senator Philip A. Hart. Hart was a legendary figure in Michigan politics. Both the visitors center at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Traverse City and the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., are named after him.
For the last several weeks, the Mt. Clemens-based Philip A. Hart Democratic Club has spent more than $100,000 on newspaper and mail ads supporting Fred Miller’s candidacy for Macomb County Clerk and smearing state Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren), one of his Democratic opponents. Miller told the Detroit Free Press that he is a member of the club. The club is is a federal political action committee (PAC) and is affiliated with the Michigan Democratic Party.
Walter Briggs Connolly Jr., a Bloomfield Hills attorney, said that his uncle would never condone having his name associated with the Philip A. Hart Democratic Club’s attack ads.
“Senator Phil Hart married into our family. At the time I was working for Senator Robert Kennedy. Over the years, I worked with Senator Hart, who was known as 'the Conscience of the Senate.' I know that he would not want his good name associated with a PAC engaged in negative, false attacks against another Democrat, especially one as dedicated to good government and high ethical standards as state Senator Steve Bieda,” said Walter Briggs Connolly Jr.
After widespread criticism, the Philip A. Hart Democratic Club is now calling itself the “Hart Democratic Club” in its most recent ads.
Bieda has filed a complaint with the Michigan Lottery Bureau against the Philip A. Hart Democratic Club, which has a state bingo license issued under the Traxler-McCauley-Law-Bowman Bingo Act. Bieda said that the club has made a mockery of the act by using funds derived from bingo games to finance blatantly political advertising. Bieda also filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission since the club did not show any disbursements for ads.
Julie Matuzak, president of the Philip A. Hart Democratic Club, told Crain’s Detroit Business in a July 31 story that the club also has “a different account” to move money, but she “did not respond to questions about what kind of legal entity controls the bank account.”
Bieda was named “Michigan Democrat of the Year” in 2017 by MIRS News. He currently represents the 9th State Senate District that includes the communities of Center Line, Eastpointe, Fraser, Roseville, Warren, and a portion of Clinton Township, and has been a State Senator since 2011. From 2003 to 2008, Bieda served as State Representative for the 25th State House District, representing Warren and Sterling Heights.