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Financial disclosure bills on the agenda in Legislature

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will start discussions this week about whether they – and other elected officials – should have to produce personal financial disclosures.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That’s a nonpartisan watchdog organization that follows money in politics.

Mauger says bills up for debate in a state House committee on Wednesday would help the public get a better sense of who their lawmakers are, and see potential conflicts of interest.

“We simply don’t know now. We are on a trust me basis now," he says.

Critics of financial disclosures say it’ll discourage people from running for office because they don’t want people knowing how much money they have.

Mauger says that shouldn’t be a concern with these bills.

“It’s positive to provide more information about people who are elected to make decisions on behalf of the public to try to ensure that they’re making those decisions on behalf of the public, instead of on behalf of some personal interest,” says Mauger.

The bipartisan package of bills would require elected officials – including the governor, elected judges, lawmakers, and members of university boards – to disclose certain personal finances. Candidates running for those positions would also have to disclose.

The bills have large bipartisan support in the state House. But they could hit a roadblock in the Senate. Majority leader Senator Mike Shirkey has spoken out against financial disclosures for lawmakers. 

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R