Running for re-election is expensive, and Michigan lawmakers are busy people. So the special interests who seek to influence legislation make it easy for them, sponsoring fundraisers that allow our harried elected representatives in Lansing to raise most of their campaign cash within a short walk from the State Capitol and on days when the state Legislature is in session. None of this strikes most reporters and lobbyists who regularly rub elbows with members of the Michigan House and Senate as particularly noteworthy. On most any of the 100 or so days those bodies are in session each year, the Michigan Independent Research Service (MIRS) and Gongwer \u2014 the two subscription-only news services who comprehensively record the daily business of state government for a specialized audience of lawmakers, lobbyists and journalists \u2014\u00a0 list special-interest fundraisers honoring a revolving cast of legislators among their daily calendar items, where they attract about as much public interest as the regularly scheduled meeting of the House Agriculture Committee. But Craig Mauger, a veteran of the Lansing press corps who recently succeeded Rich Robinson as executive director of the non-profit Michigan Campaign Finance Network, thinks it\u2019s significant \u2014 and a little disturbing \u2014 that so much fundraising takes place in the Capitol\u2019s shadow. \u201cThis happens in the light of day, almost every session day,\u201d Mauger says. \u201cA lobbyist and the chairman of a House committee can be talking to one another at a fundraiser the lobbyist is throwing for the member, and an hour later, the lobbyist is testifying in front of the chairman\u2019s committee.\u201d \u201cIf you spend most of your time in Lansing, you don\u2019t even notice it,\u201d Mauger continues. \u201cBut when I describe the phenomenon to people who don\u2019t live here, they often ask me: \u201cIs that even legal?\u201d Multitasking while the sun shines It\u2019s perfectly legal, of course. And the money lawmakers raise at these regularly scheduled get-togethers is generally disclosed (albeit weeks or months after the fact) in mandated campaign-finance reports filed with the Michigan Secretary of State\u2019s office. Once they\u2019ve been filed, voters adept at navigating the SOS\u2019s online database can see for themselves which special interests are cozying up to which members of the Legislature. It was by examining those legally mandated filings, as a matter of fact, that the MCFN was able to discover just how much campaign cash lawmakers raise within a short stroll of the House and Senate chambers. The MCFN learned that in 2015 \u2014 a year, Mauger points out, in which no legislator in either chamber faced a primary or general election contest \u2014 candidate committees for state officeholders and political action committees (or PACs) that raise money for redistribution to candidates held 315 fundraisers. More than half \u2014 54% \u2014 took place in Lansing. And four-fifths of those fundraisers took place on days the Legislature was in session \u2014 sometimes during hours the fundraiser\u2019s principal beneficiary was scheduled to attend a committee meeting or participate in some other legislative business. One of the lawmakers Mauger spoke to, state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, pointed out that she left an early morning fundraiser at the Glazed and Confused doughnut shop down the street from the state Capitol an hour before it was over to be at a meeting of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee. It\u2019s not unusual for legislators or PACS to rent restaurants or coffee shops where donors can drop in for a quick bite while delivering a check. But according the MCFN\u2019s analysis, a disproportionate number of fundraisers take place in private reception spaces owned or leased by lobbying firms and industry organizations. Mauger notes that one of the state\u2019s most perennially generous groups, the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers, advertises its headquarters building two blocks south of the state Capitol as \u201can ideal location\u201d for fundraising events. \u201cRaising the resources necessary to conduct a successful political campaign is a never-ending struggle for state lawmakers,\u201d the beer and wine wholesalers\u2019 website observes sympathetically, \u201cand the use of the 1933 Room can make the task more manageable,\u201d In 2015, the MCFN found, candidates or PACs raised a quarter-million dollars in 24 fundraising events at the wholesalers\u2019 headquarters. Hiding in broad daylight Late last week, I asked Mauger whether training a spotlight on well-publicized fundraising events whose sponsors and beneficiaries are readily identifiable might distract voters\u2019 attention from a more-sinister development \u2014 the explosive growth of untraceable contributions to third party groups who account for an ever-increasing proportion of total campaign spending. In recent state Supreme Court elections in Michigan and other states, for instance, such undisclosed dark-money expenditures have far out-stripped expenditures by the candidates themselves. Dark money is a huge problem, Mauger conceded, \u201cBut it\u2019s important not to ignore the things that are happening right in front of us. \u201cPeople don\u2019t run for office with money from the constituents they represent, and our report shows you who is really funding these campaigns.\u201d As for doing it all while the Legislature is in session, and within a stone\u2019s throw of the place where they make the laws by which the rest of us all live \u2014 well, that\u2019s just more convenient for everyone involved.