State Rep. Jay DeBoyer this week opposed financial disclosure plans in the Legislature, saying they disregard and disrespect voters who expect transparency from state government.
Senate Bills 613-616 install some disclosure requirements for Michigan’s state-level elected officials. But the requirements are thin – barely meeting the minimum standard for disclosures as written in the state constitution and only requiring disclosure of gifts and trips reported by lobbyists instead of all trips.
Additionally, DeBoyer expressed concerns with not having a reporting requirement for spouses or family members who work for a state department or organization that receives tax dollars, as well as not having to disclose if an immediate family member is a registered lobbyist.
The bills also lack sufficient deterrents. Under the plans, a failure to disclose what is required would result in a $2,000 civil fine that can be paid from campaign funds. DeBoyer said the reform will not discourage unethical conduct and merely doubles down on utilizing dark money.
“These bills just don’t go far enough to ensure we are getting financial disclosure,” DeBoyer said. “Just in the past few months, we have seen multiple cases where proper guardrails would have headed off potential conflicts of interest. But the Legislature isn’t willing to go there. We are passing watered down legislation that falls short of what an overwhelming amount of people voted for and expected state government to deliver.”
In November of 2022, Michigan voters approved ballot Proposal 1, a proposal to require Michigan’s legislators, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general to file annual public financial disclosure reports after 2023. Specifically, the proposal requires disclosure of assets, liabilities, income sources, future employment agreements, gifts, travel reimbursements and positions held in organizations except religious, social and political organizations.
“Voters were clear on this, and the state Legislature had a constitutional requirement to enact Prop 1 by the end of this year,” DeBoyer said. “Unfortunately, Democrats in majority waited until the final hour to get this done. Then these ‘transparency bills’ were ironically passed in a non-transparent way – at 2:30 a.m. after being steamrolled through with failed negotiations behind closed doors. The result is hollow legislation that will not improve the ethics in and around Lansing and do very little for actual transparency. I can’t vote for a paper tiger that is disrespectful to the will of Michigan voters.”
Once approved, the bills will head to the governor for consideration and a potential signature.
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Jay DeBoyer speaks on financial disclosure legislation before the Michigan House on Thursday, Nov. 9. DeBoyer said the bills, Senate Bills 613-616, do not go far enough in providing real transparency for people who voted to approve disclosure measures through Proposal 1 last November.
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