Thursday, February 2, 2011
David Holtz 313-300-4454

State House Democrats Target Corporate Cash, Lobbying

LANSING, MI–Ethics and campaign finance reforms proposed by state House Democrats were supported today by citizens groups who say Michigan must challenge unfair corporate power and revolving door politics and make state government more responsive to average citizens.

“Pay to play politics is out of control in Michigan when wealthy corporate interests can elect their preferred candidates and get special favors and tax breaks,” said David Holtz, Executive Director of Progress Michigan. “We will not have government by and for the people as long as we have government bought and paid for by the special interests.”

“Whether we are Republicans, Democrats or Independents, we are all Americans first and we all have a shared interest in government that is more effective, transparent and accountable,” said Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director for Clean Water Action. “If you care about clean water and protecting our Great Lakes, then forcing corporate polluters to come out from behind their paid lobbyists and political ads is a must. You can’t have clean water without clean government.”

“The Supreme Court made a terrible mistake when they said in the Citizens United ruling that corporations have the same rights as people,” said Linda Teeter, State Director for Michigan Citizen Action. “Corporations are not people, and these proposals would at least let us see what they are doing in our elections and in lobbying Lansing lawmakers.”

“We need disclosure to see who the politicians are who are working for corporate special interests and CEOs and who fund their campaigns are our expense,” said Mike Berkowitz of Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “Just this year we saw the Legislature hand out tax breaks for corporations while raising taxes on pensions and cutting education.”

According to a press release from House Democrats, the package of bills announced today would:

  • Create a two-year “cooling off” period for elected officials and a one-year period for department directors who attempt to move directly into lobbying to close the revolving door between public and private work.
  • Require personal financial disclosure from appointed and elected officials. Michigan is one of only three states with no financial disclosure requirements.
  • Strengthen conflict of interest provisions for legislators, prohibit state elected officials from applying for or accepting state grants, and make it illegal for individuals to solicit or accept campaign contributions while in a state facility.
  • Toughen campaign finance disclosure and corporate accountability after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted limits on corporate spending in campaigns and prevent state contractors, companies that accept federal bail-out money, and foreign-controlled corporations from spending money in Michigan elections.
  • Increase transparency by forcing corporations making expenditures in campaigns or for lobbying purposes to comply with the law and publically disclose funders.
  • Eliminate “Pay to Play” politics by banning the state from awarding any contract over $100,000 to a contractor or vendor who made campaign contributions to elected officials.
  • Require “robo-calls” to clearly state the name and address of the organization paying for them.


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