Rep. Schuette: Democrats’ lackluster unveiling plans fail to deliver on Michigan’s promise

Rep. Schuette: Democrats’ lackluster unveiling plans fail to deliver on Michigan’s promise

State Representative Bill G. Schuette today criticized the Democratic-led financial disclosure legislation that passed the House of Representatives around 2:00 a.m. last Thursday morning. Schuette pointed to the legislation’s numerous shortcomings, glaring loopholes and failure to meet the expectations of the overwhelming majority of Michigan voters who approved Proposition 1 last year.

Senate Bills 613-616 represent minimum disclosure requirements for Michigan statewide elected officials, which Democrats recently vetoed. But Schuette said the bills provide weak enforcement that would not prevent people from hiding assets, allow fines for violations to be paid from a campaign account and do not give the Legislature the ability to investigate conflicts of interest.

“A $2,000 fine that you can pay using your campaign account will do nothing to encourage honest and truthful financial disclosure from elected officials,” Schuette said. “Instead, it will only encourage the use of campaign funds to cover up conflicts of interest.

“I’m disappointed that our state Legislature missed the opportunity to provide truly meaningful financial disclosure and answer what voters asked for last November. Michigan’s record on government transparency has long been an embarrassment to our state, and these laws fail to resolve some of the most glaring issues We have. I will continue to work for real accountability measures that help restore trust in government.

On the House floor until the early morning when the bills were passed, Rep. Schuette introduced amendments with his Republican colleagues to strengthen financial disclosure legislation by requiring disclosure of specific income levels and sources and requiring lawmakers to disclose the family relationships of lobbyists. The Democratic leadership dropped the amendments before they could vote on them.

In November of 2022, Michigan voters approved Ballot Proposition 1, a proposal that would require Michigan legislators, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general to file annual public financial disclosure reports after 2023. Specifically, the proposal would require disclosure of assets, Commitments, sources of income, future employment agreements, gifts, travel compensation, and positions held in organizations excluding religious, social and political organizations.

The ballot proposal was approved by more than 65% approval, a clear mandate sent to the Legislature to act, Schuette said. A series of conflict-of-interest scandals in the House of Representatives in recent months have also demonstrated the need for greater transparency on the part of lawmakers.

In March, Schuette spearheaded a House Republican plan that would improve Michigan’s lackluster standing on government transparency through sweeping ethics and transparency reforms. The unveiling of the proposals coincided with “Sunshine Week,” which encourages greater transparency in government.

On top of expanding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to ensure the governor and lawmakers are not exempt from Michigan’s sunshine laws and creating constitutionally required financial disclosure forms for lawmakers so conflicts of interest can be better regulated, the plans also prohibit lawmakers from voting when they or an immediate family member can Personally leverage and establish bipartisan ethics committees to consider conflict-of-interest issues rather than placing that responsibility on the Secretary of State, as current plans do.

The House Ethics and Oversight Committee has not yet considered this legislation.

Image information: State Rep. Bill J. Schuette speaks about financial disclosure legislation before the Michigan House of Representatives on Thursday, November 9. Schuette said the bills, Senate Bills 613-616, don’t go far enough in providing real transparency for people who voted to approve disclosure measures through Proposition 1 last November.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *