Bill Schuette begins the issues ramp up for 2018.
Schuette, in preparation to take on a half dozen or more GOP contenders is capably using his AG pulpit to advance certain ideals that will probably be embraced by conservatives and GOP activists across Michigan. Schuette, already enjoying a lead built on 30 or so years of campaigning for governor leaves little to question on 4(3?) key issues. In today’s editorial on the Detroit News page:
First: Financial disclosure
Michigan is one of only three states that does not require disclosure of personal financial information by elected state officials. This common sense reform would provide new information to help prevent conflicts of interest in government decision-making.
We already require financial transparency from federal officials, so it is not a stretch to include state elected officials, from the governor’s office to the state legislature. I have both sponsored financial disclosure bills as a state legislator and complied with federal disclosure requirements while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is not that difficult.
Personally, I don’t care how much you are worth.
But there are tells in the way your investments are made. Add to this the cronyist environment that takes taxpayer money and pipes it through political process toward certain ‘investments,’ and a sickening reality becomes clear.
Rick Snyder is a perfect example of this.
Second: Release of tax returns
Statewide elected officials and candidates for statewide office should voluntarily release their income tax records. Today, as I have done every year since being elected as Attorney General, I provided my tax returns to the public and the media.
This is pretty similar to the first.
In fact it should be added to the first. Unimportant, and in-fact decidedly less so than a broad picture of investments and financial interest reporting.
Third: Freedom of Information laws
Michigan is one of only two states in which the governor’s office and legislature are not covered by Freedom of Information laws. The good news is legislation to remedy this is in the legislature right now. With a spate of controversies dominating the news, a new level of accountability for public records would help restore confidence in the integrity of state government.
Of course, the AG has broad latitude in this area.
It would help in the case against the Michigan House, where a lawfully elected representative was ejected by a knee-jerk political process. Perhaps Mr. Schuette could impress upon folks how important it would have been to allow the membership to actually entertain the idea that claims made against the representative were baseless and unfounded.
It was his own office that got the news first. One might think transparency to the legislature at the very least was warranted. From a recent motion to deny dismissal of Gamrat v. House, speaker, et al.:
” The second issue that should be addressed is the issue of Gamrat’s alleged misconduct as described in the HBO Report. This should not have to be addressed, but House Defendants continue to highlight in their brief the fact that Gamrat was found to have misused taxpayer dollars in an attempt to cover up the affair. Although these allegations are contained in the HBO Report, it is important to remember that these allegations were shown to be baseless through the criminal proceedings that were maliciously instituted against Gamrat. Indeed, the charges brought against Gamrat related to the alleged misuse of funds were dismissed at the probable cause hearing. Any representation or inference that House Defendants were justified in taking the actions described in the amended complaint because of the alleged misconduct of Gamrat are, therefore, unfounded. ”
Which, as history will record, dissemination of the baseless ‘facts’ was substantive in the removal of Michigan State Representative Cindy Gamrat.
A damned shame to be sure. Bad information, made worse by political pressure to suppress it. Not only was the sitting representative removed without a vote of the people she represented, but the AG to this day ignores the constitutional violation the current recall provisions entail. The very same violation that prevents them from realistically enacting such removal on their own.
S.S.D.D. And I still hope she wins.
Fourth: Part-Time Legislature
Forty states have some form of a part-time legislature. Let’s make Michigan 41.
We are fortunate to have many talented and dedicated legislators, on both sides of the aisle, who work with integrity to make Michigan a better place. But in this time of declining trust in government, we cannot be afraid to hit the “refresh” button in Lansing and move Michigan to a part-time legislature with a full-time, laser-like focus on policies like public safety, job creation and education reform, all while saving taxpayers’ money.
Strange how this is the first time I have ever heard mention of this by Bill Schuette.
I suppose I could go spend an hour and Google it to make sure, but one thing is for real; Bill Schuette has not pressed this particular issue at any of the events I have seen him attend. Its a great idea however. If he could use it as a real campaign promise/pledge, he should, and would pick up some of the more weak kneed support out there.
In any event, we are sure to see more ‘red meat’ and placeholders for the conservative wing by the time the Republican Leadership at Mackinac conference happens.
The posturing for 2018 has now officially begun!