Press release published March 11, 2019 — 2:30 p.m. EST
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today shared her ideas on how to make Michigan a leader in transparency and accountability and restore public trust in state government last week.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, the state has the weakest transparency and ethics laws in the nation.
“It’s important for citizens to simply have all the information they need and deserve so they can hold all of their elected officials accountable,” Benson said.
Benson announced her ideas (see more here) on improving transparency while speaking at the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Nonprofit Legislative Day in Lansing. She then provided testimony including those proposals to the House Committee on Elections and Ethics.
Benson wants to work with members of the Legislature toward full disclosure of all money in politics through stronger reporting requirements and by closing loopholes and exceptions. Among her other ideas, she is interested in expanding the Freedom of Information Act so it applies to the governor and Legislature, requiring personal financial disclosures from elected officials and instituting a two-year “cooling off” period between leaving office as a legislator and working as a lobbyist. Benson plans to have conversations with residents at town hall meetings across the state to hear their feedback on transparency and other issues.
To lead by example, Benson will announce a series of actions that she and the Michigan Department of State will take to implement improvements in the areas of disclosure, ethics and transparency. She plans to announce the new transparency items during Sunshine Week, the national call to action for freedom of information and open government that begins March 10. Sunshine Week is an annual, nonpartisan effort launched in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors.