Michigan government thrives on black money | News, Sports, Jobs


HOUGHTON – A November 2015 state integrity investigation report found Michigan was given an F rating, which the report called “An honor system without honor.” The 2015 State Integrity Survey was conducted in partnership with Global Integrity and provided a comprehensive assessment of state government accountability and transparency. In short, the three branches of government are much more concerned with representing Political Action Committees (PACs) backed by high-yielding black money spenders than they are with representing state residents.

It is a failure of state governments across the country.

According to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), only three states scored above D +. Among Michigan’s neighbors, Wisconsin scored a D, Illinois scored a D +, Minnesota scored a D-. Michigan finished dead last.

The top of the pack includes “Bastions of progressive government”, the report indicates, including California (ranked 2nd with a C-), and states notorious for their corrupt pasts (Connecticut, 3rd with a C-, and Rhode Island, 5th with a D +). In these New England states, scandals have led to significant reforms and relatively strong ethical laws, even as questionable transactions linger in the halls of government. The bottom (in the rankings) includes many western states that defend a limited government, like Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming, but also others, like Maine, Delaware, and ultimate Michigan, which don’t have not adopted the types of ethics and open files. laws common to many other states. Wisconsin scored slightly higher than Michigan on three-branch accountability: executive accountability got a D, ranking 20th, legislature got an F, ranking 40th, and the judiciary, likewise, received an F, ranking 33rd.

In those categories, Michigan placed 50th, or dead last, in all three. Two other categories in which Michigan failed were lobbying disclosure (43rd) and ethics enforcement agencies (47th).

The report also discusses the influence of black money on all facets of state government, including the judiciary. Black money is defined as the political spending of nonprofit organizations, such as 501 (c) (4) (social protection) 501 (c) (5) (unions) and 501 (c) (6) groups (professional association), who are not required to disclose their donors. These organizations can receive unlimited donations from corporations, individuals and unions. This way, their donors can spend funds to influence elections, without voters knowing where the money is coming from.

“The bigwigs in many states exercise undue influence over legislation and decrees,” the CPI report said. “But in Michigan, campaign money also taints the justice system.”

The Michigan Campaign Finance Network, an independent network, reported that since 2000, state Supreme Court campaigns have been inundated with nearly $ 40 million in political television ads, with donors being kept off the books, according to the report. An equally veiled process dominates campaigns for the attorney general. In a state where judicial candidates face virtually no professional standards or performance reviews, critics say judges, especially Supreme Court justices, are simply “Politicians in black robes”.

The report went on to say that the Michigan State Bar has engaged in attempts to fix this system by demanding full disclosure, but to no avail. Jules Olsman, an attorney who has served on the state bar’s board of directors, said his clients routinely question the fairness of the state’s judicial process given the constant stream of campaign announcements at the election time.

“If the judge hearing my case has received $ 10,000 from opposing counsel or clients, I should have the right to know” said Olsman. “At this point, it’s more than a suspicion. It happens all the time. “

According to an article from September 24, 2019, “The Rise of Black Money in Michigan Politics” The South End of Wayne State University (thesouthend.wayne.edu) Michigan Secretary of State and former Dean of Wayne State Law School Jocelyn Benson spoke at the second annual Paul A. Rosen, located in the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium. In the conference, Benson presented a comparative status of Michigan’s current campaign finance laws to those of the rest of the country.

“For years, Michigan has consistently been ranked last by the Center of Public Integrity for its transparency and accountability laws,” said Benson.

Benson presented a comparative status of Michigan’s current campaign finance laws with those of the rest of the country, saying Michigan is lagging far behind in regulating the money that individual lawmakers receive. Michigan, she said, is one of only two states that does not require lawmakers to disclose their other sources of revenue or any other financial influence.

Benson, keenly aware of the disconnect between lawmakers and their constituents, said what is needed to mend the relationship between lawmakers and those they represent.

“In my opinion,” she said, “If we really want to take seriously the importance of restoring public confidence in our democracy, we need to know some basic things about disclosing personal financial information. “

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