Representatives urge financial transparency amid conflict-of-interest questions
LANSING, Mich. — Reps Bill G. Schuette and Tom Kunse today called on Speaker Joe Tate to put Republicans’ already introduced transparency legislation up for a vote. This comes on the heels of increasing questions about House Appropriations Chair Angela Witwer’s ties to Lansing PR firm Edge Partnerships. Edge represents numerous clients that benefited from the most recent Michigan budget.
Witwer continues to avoid questions from the media, and despite numerous legislators attempting to gain transparency into the issue, neither she nor Tate have provided any answers. Every House Democrat today voted against Republican motions to hold immediate votes on the Republican plan.
The legislation (HBs 4261, 4262, 4643, 4264, 4265, 4266, 4267, 4268, 4269, 4270, 4271, 4272) introduced by House Republicans on March 14, would create constitutionally required financial disclosure forms for lawmakers, so conflicts of interest can be better monitored and regulated, and officials can be held accountable to the people they serve. The bills also prohibit legislators from voting when they or an immediate family member could personally benefit, and form new bipartisan ethics committees to enforce the requirements.
“Voters deserve to know their budgets and policy coming from the Legislature are above reproach and free from conflicts of interest,” said Bill G. Schuette. “Our legislation on financial disclosure would take effect next year, but we’d both be happy to voluntarily disclose this year if Rep. Witwer would follow suit.”
“This transparency package has sat idle in front of the House Ethics and Oversight Committee for 194 days, while Democrats have rammed through their true priorities: extreme campaign promises made to their political allies,” said Tom Kunse, the Republican vice chair of the Ethics and Oversight Committee. “The reality is, Michigan’s lack of transparency keeps voters in the dark and allows for unethical behavior to go on in our Capitol building. The changes are easy — we’ve already written the bills.”
Democrats have failed to move the financial disclosure legislation to implement Proposal 1 of 2022, which passed with support from more than 66 percent of Michigan voters. Today, Michigan House Democrats once again turned a deaf ear to the will of Michigan. With questions regarding conflicts of interest growing, Schuette and Kunse said there has never been more urgency to act.
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