From observing the legislature over several years, there has been no more belligerent opponent of common sense bipartisan reform than Rep. Klint Kesto. He has stood directly in the way of legislation to restrict Drone surveillance and provide basic accountability for SWAT team raids. On the other hand, he has supported big tax hikes, spending increases, Medicaid expansion and Common Core. Kesto is truly the archetype for everything that is wrong with Lansing.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Rep. Kesto is at the center of a corruption probe regarding drugs and dirty money. The Detroit Free Press released the following details regarding Kesto in a report released last week:

“Brian Pierce, who was chief of staff to House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Klint Kesto… now [has a] better-paying jobs as lobbyists for the medical marijuana industry….

Kesto and marijuana bill sponsor Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, were the top two recipients in the Legislature of meals and drinks paid for by Michigan lobbyists in 2016, with Callton receiving $4,047 in food and drink and Kesto getting $3,266, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network…

Receiving medical marijuana campaign funds since 2015 were: Kesto, whose campaign fund and PAC received at least $15,175.”

While Kesto was flush in cash and enjoying free dinners from lobbyists, the medical marijuana industry laid in the balance. Vigorous debate has centered around medical marijuana in the state of Michigan. It was undeniably approved by the voters, but ambiguity in the law as it was written has caused confusion for many communities and law enforcement throughout Michigan. Rep. Kesto, ever the opportunist, has looked at this confusion as the means to enrich himself and his cronies.

While the medical marijuana industry cannot be stopped, the bureaucrats in Lansing are trying to control it. After bills were passed last year, dispensaries are now legally allowed to open – but under many restrictions including licensing from the state. When the state ultimately has the power to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, bad results can happen. These bad results may have been the intended consequences of the legislation, as constructed in part by a Kesto, a lobbyist-controlled pawn.

Kesto was responsible in the drafting process of the bizarrely written legislation that was ultimately passed and signed into law, which many believe that will create a de-facto monopoly at the behest of the Michigan Cannabis Development Association (MCDA). This may squeeze “the little guy” out of the process, eliminate competition, and boost prices up for sick patients who desperately need this medication to survive. Kesto and the MCDA have been tied together for many years.

The behavior of Rep. Kesto and others should anger every individual voter regardless of what they think about medical marijuana. To people who oppose it, Rep. Kesto is profiteering from illicit activities. To proponents of medical marijuana, Rep. Kesto is squeezing medical patients to fuel his political ambitions. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, Rep. Kesto’s behavior is simply foul.

Nonetheless, Kesto claims that he is on the up-and-up.

“Everything I did was within the law and within the campaign finance rules. We didn’t do any quid pro quo,” Kesto said to the Free Press. “Over the past three election cycles, I raised maybe a million dollars, so that amount was a drop in the bucket.”

Unsurprisingly, Kesto’s cool million came from a host of other special interests and cronies. According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Kesto has also received money from the energy industry, the auto industry, the real estate industry, the beer and wine industry, the cable industry as well as many other corporate fatcats and shadow groups. This man is on the take in a million different ways.

The good news is that Kesto is getting exposed for his dealings. It is becoming more difficult for him to hide his corruption. Rumor has it that he will not fade quietly when he is termed out of the House next year. He wants to keep his corrupt crime spree going for much longer. Please share this important information so that we can rid ourselves from this corrupt crony Klint Kesto in our public life for good.

Shane Trejo
State Director
Michigan Tenth Amendment Center