House Dems Back Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform Package

Bills call for greater transparency and accountability from lawmakers and state officers
Thursday, February 2, 2012

LANSING -State Representatives Jim Ananich (Flint), Charles Brunner (Bay City) and Charles Smiley(Burton) today announced their support for an ethics and campaign finance reform package that would close the revolving door between the public and the private sectors and provide citizens with greater transparency and accountability from elected and appointed officials.

“As lawmakers we hold positions of trust. We are agents of the people of Michigan and charged with making sure that our state thrives socially, economically, and culturally. Anything that would betray that trust must be dealt with in no uncertain terms,” said Smiley. “I believe that this legislative package being introduced will make it crystal clear to Michigan’s citizens that we are indeed governing in their best interest—not for private interests or personal gain.”

“This legislation is what government of the people, by the people, and for the people looks like,” said Brunner. “Michigan is at its best when its citizens can be sure that their tax dollars are not subsidizing political fundraising by officials still on the clock and that massive corporate spending in campaigns does not eradicate the Constitutional guarantee of ‘one person, one vote.’ I am calling on all my colleagues in the House to vote yes on these bills.”

The package contains 16 bills and one constitutional amendment and looks to address corporate accountability, campaign finance and ethics reform. Among other things, the House Democrats’ package of bills would:

  • Create a two year “cooling off” period for elected officials and a one year period for department directors who attempt to move directly into lobbying to close the revolving door between public and private work.
  • Require personal financial disclosure from appointed and elected officials. Michigan is one of only three states with no financial disclosure requirements.
  • Strengthen conflict of interest provisions for legislators, prohibit state elected officials from applying for or accepting state grants, and make it illegal for individuals to solicit or accept campaign contributions while in a state facility.
  • Toughen campaign finance disclosure and corporate accountability after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted limits on corporate spending in campaigns and prevent state contractors, companies that accept federal bail-out money, and foreign-controlled corporations from spending money in Michigan elections.
  • Increase transparency by forcing corporations making expenditures in campaigns or for lobbying purposes to comply with the law and publically disclose funders.
  • Eliminate “Pay to Play” politics by banning the state from awarding any contract over $100,000 to a contractor or vendor who made campaign contributions to elected officials.
  • Require “robo-calls” to clearly state the name and address of the organization paying for them.

“Increasing transparency allows people to make up their own minds about the influence of money in the system,” said Ananich, who recently joined Rep. Jim Townsend (Royal Oak) in writing to request a hearing on financial disclosure legislation. “The public needs to have confidence that getting people back to work - not doing the work of the special interests - is our top priority.”