However it happens, the need for this perfect source to multiply—for more illumination on the flow of money into Michigan, and national, politics—remains pressing. “I can hardly recall a time when a citizen said they didn’t care, they didn’t need to know,” said Robinson. “But legislators are more accountable to funders who don’t want transparency. That’s the officeholder’s dilemma right now: the pull between citizens and anonymous funders. Right now, the funders are winning.”

Anna Clark is CJR's correspondent for Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. A 2011 Fulbright fellow, Clark has written for The Guardian, Grantland, and Salon; blogs at Isak; and can be found on Twitter @annaleighclark. She lives in Detroit.