Citing his state’s poor showing in the Center’s States of Disclosure ranking, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox yesterday proposed an ethics reform package that would require state officials to annually disclose personal financial information. The Center has repeatedly called attention to the fact that Michigan is one of only three states that fails to disclose outside financial interests.
“Michigan is at the bottom of far too many lists,” noted Republican Rep. Paul Opsommer, who is actually sponsoring the legislation that encompasses Cox’s proposals. “Of all the challenges we face, increasing governmental transparency should be one of the easiest and quickest things we can do. There is no reason to wait,” Opsommer said in a statement.
The ethics package is expected to be introduced in the legislature within the next week.
Cox’s package would require officials, candidates, and their immediate family members to report income, assets, liabilities, and gifts from lobbyists totaling more than $250. The reports would be filed with the Secretary of State; a failure to do so could result in a maximum penalty of four years in jail or a $10,000 fine.
Cox, a Republican who plans to run for governor next year, also proposed a bill that would require legislators to abstain from voting if they have a conflict of interest.
Democrats were, perhaps not surprisingly, a bit cynical about the Cox proposal. They noted that the Democrat-led House in Michigan had passed reform measures in March, which had languished in the Republican-controlled Senate.