Granholm Announces New Legislation to Strengthen Openness, Accountability in Government

Contact: Liz Boyd 517-335-6397

December 13, 2005

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today asked the Legislature to support a series of reform measures that will strengthen ethics laws, increase financial disclosure requirements, and reform campaign finance laws.

“Accountability and openness are at the heart of any democracy,” said Granholm.  “This legislation will ensure that elected officials are truly serving the people of Michigan, not themselves or special interests.”

The Center for Public Integrity has consistently ranked Michigan among the worst in the nation for its public financial disclosure laws.  The need for increased disclosure, higher standards of ethics, and campaign finance reform has been cited by the Michigan Law Revision Commission.  In addition, many laws in Michigan don’t apply to all elected officials in the same way or have not been revised as campaign technology and techniques have evolved.

The Granholm package:

  • requires annual disclosure of financial interests by elected officials and candidates to protect against conflicts of interest.  The disclosure requirements would be the same as those already required for federal officials.

  • creates a new Ethics Act for Executive Branch Officials and Employees to extend ethics standards and conflict of interest regulations, including contracting and gift restrictions, to all elected and appointed officials and employees in the executive branch.

  • creates a new Legislative Ethics Act to extend the same ethics standards and conflict of interest requirements to members of the Legislature and establish a bipartisan legislative ethics committee to enforce the new law.

  • enhances the powers for the State Board of Ethics to ensure compliance with ethics laws, requiring referral of alleged illegal activities to appropriate law enforcement authorities;

  • prohibits state contract managers from acting on any contract matter when the manager has a conflict of interest, and prohibits contract managers from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions in order to ensure integrity in sate contracting process.

  • closes the lobbying revolving door by establishing a one-year ban on lobbying for elected state officials and non-elected heads of principal government departments;

  • extends the current ban on honorariums for legislators to all elected state officials and other officials in the executive and legislative branch of state government who are subject to state’s lobbying law;

  • bans soliciting, delivering, or accepting political contributions when in a government building housing offices where government business is conducted;

  • requires full disclosure of recorded telephone communications in elections, including who paid for and authorized the calls.

“It is critical that public officials disclose their personal information so taxpayers know they are working for them,” said Granholm.  “This comprehensive package will help ensure that Michigan voters have accurate, honest information on which to judge candidates and elected officials, and that elected officials can be held accountable when they fail to uphold the public’s trust.  As state government works to diversify Michigan’s economy and create good new jobs, Michigan citizens need assurance that state government is working for their best interests, not the special interests,” Granholm added.

Granholm said she expects implementation bills will be introduced when the Legislature returns in January.

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