Michigan’s new secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, has released details of her personal finances. She says this sort of disclosure should be required of all state elected officials.
She made more than $370,000 last year as the CEO of a not-for-profit organization and a law professor. That was before she took office in January. She has called for a law to require other state elected officials to make public their income sources and potential conflicts.
Benson, a Democrat, says Michigan suffers from low trust of public officials, and it will be up to public officials to help restore people’s confidence in state government.
“There’s a reason why 48 other states and the federal government require this of their elected officials,” she says. “If we’re serious about being a state where transparency and ethics in government – and accountability – is the norm, we have to also require it of every legislator.”
Republicans like state Representative Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) are not entirely on board.
“I support voluntary disclosure, which I have voluntarily taken myself. I want to see how that goes over before we do a mandated approach,” he says.
Johnson wants the state to adopt a uniform disclosure form. He says people would know when an elected official has refused to fill out the disclosure form. He says then it would be up to voters to judge.