State Rep. Brian BeGole this week opposed financial disclosure plans in the Legislature, saying they don’t go far enough to improve the state’s dismal government transparency standing and deliver on expectations from voters.
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.
“We could have done more, and my vote reflects that,” said BeGole, of Antrim Township. “When you can simply pay fines for violations of these procedures with money from a campaign account, as these bills allow for, that’s not much for transparency. These bills also do not allow for the Legislature to investigate conflicts of interest to keep its own house in order.
“I have heard from many people I represent about the need for state government to be transparent and accountable to the people it represents. These bills leave too many loopholes where similar situations can keep unfolding and that ultimately hurts people we represent.”
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 overwhelmingly clear in what they expected from state government when they approved this proposal,” BeGole said. “We have also seen multiple potential conflicts of interest come up in the House over the past few months that showcase the need for greater disclosure and transparency. We shouldn’t settle when there is a bipartisan appetite to go after this issue and we have a mandate from voters. We should make Michigan a leader on government transparency, and these bills don’t get us there.”
Once approved, the bills will head to the governor for consideration and a potential signature.
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