Stryker Roils Michigan Politics

  • Public-Policy Reform
  • 2006

Jon Stryker, the billionaire heir to the Stryker medical-instruments fortune, set up the Arcus Foundation in 2000. It almost immediately became a national force for lawmaking and electioneering on behalf of gay rights, thanks to $78 million of targeted donations to gay groups in just its first ten years.

Stryker also used his giving to change the political calculus in his home state of Michigan. At the same time he and his sister, Pat, were using their inherited billions to help flip Colorado into the political blue column (see 2008  entry), he was carrying out a similar game plan on the Great Lakes. He employed philanthropic donations plus $5 million of PAC spending to help flip the Michigan State House from Republican to Democrat control, and to help Jennifer Granholm defeat Dick DeVos in the governor’s race.