press releaseImage of Lee Chatfield in a suit testifying in front of a committee


News from Progress Michigan 

October 18, 2022

Contact: Sam Inglot,

Chatfield’s Alleged Criminal Enterprise Included DTE, Consumers Energy 

More than $180,000 from fossil fuel lobby funded ex-speaker’s lavish, abusive lifestyle

MICHIGAN – When former Michigan House of Representatives Speaker Lee Chatfield was going on fancy trips to Aspen, the Bahamas, Vegas and elsewhere instead of taking votes in Lansing so he could expand his political corruption scheme, Michigan’s largest utilities were footing the bill and taking part in the action.

“Lee Chatfield and his MAGA Republican cronies promised to ‘drain the swamp’ but all they did was make it murkier,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “This is a textbook example of why we need stronger disclosure laws on lobbying in Michigan.”

Here’s what we know:

  • The Detroit News reported that Chatfield participated in embezzlement, bribery, campaign finance violations and distributing controlled substances.
  • Aaron Chatfield, Lee’s brother, allegedly was purchasing Adderall illegally for Gary Owens, a paid lobbyist for Consumers Energy, at Lee’s request on numerous occasions.
  • At least $180,000 in contributions from DTE and Consumers Energy went to Chatfield’s campaign and leadership committees. This figure does not account for donations to Chatfield’s “social welfare” slush fund that benefitted his lavish lifestyle.
  • This so-called social welfare fund, the Peninsula Group, spent $454,337 on food, dining, travel and entertainment in 2020 alone. When he was in the legislature, Chatfield reported spending the most out of any elected official on food and beverages.
  • In 2020, a Consumers Energy-connected nonprofit gave the Peninsula Fund $50,000 and another DTE-connected nonprofit gave the Peninsula Fund $30,000.
  • DTE Energy paid for Chatfield and other lawmakers to attend the Rocket Mortgage Pro-Am golf outing for several years in a row, which Progress Michigan filed a complaint with the Bureau of Elections on, as these tickets cost thousands of dollars.

Here’s what we want to know: What were DTE and Consumers Energy getting in return for enabling Chatfield’s improprieties? 

“Publicly-owned and traded electric utilities – regulated by our lawmakers – should not engage in naked influence-peddling and what is essentially legally sanctioned bribery,” Scott continued. “We call on the Michigan Public Service Commission, who regulates DTE and Consumers Energy, to demand that the CEOs of these companies provide full accounting of all their contributions, perks, trips, tickets, and other gifts they’ve funneled into Chatfield and other legislators.”