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Candidates Announce Plans To Increase Transparency In Michigan State Government

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Democratic and Republican candidates for state office want to increase transparency in Michigan’s government.

Democrat Jocelyn Benson is running for Secretary of State.  She called for more campaign finance disclosure requirements.  Her plan includes a requirement that unions and corporations publicly file reports in certain cases.  She also wants to require public officials to file financial disclosure statements.

Benson said people have a right to know how politicians get their money.

“It’s the job of the Secretary of State to amplify people’s voices in the political process, stand up for them, make sure they have a voice,” she said.

State Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor, Bill Schuette has a plan that is focused on expanding the Freedom of Information Act.  He would subject the governor’s office to the Freedom of Information Act and ban gifts from lobbyists to elected officials.

“It would raise us up,” he said.  “It would bring us into the 21st century.  And it’s about time and people have been in or around government for a long time and doing nothing, now it’s time to do something.  Let’s have some light shine.”

Schuette’s plan would also ban former state elected officials from becoming lobbyists for five years.  And it would require candidates and office holders to release their tax returns.

Representative Jeremy Moss(D-Southfield) said this is a political stunt by Schuette.  Moss has made transparency in state government his mission.  He also wants the governor’s office to be subject to FOIA – and has introduced legislation to that effect.

But Moss said Schuette has been in a unique position as Attorney General to improve transparency, and he hasn’t. 

“So where has he been for the last eight years as attorney?” Moss asked.  “Now, very conveniently, he’s running for governor and running on transparency, but he’s been totally off duty the last eight years.”

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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