“We need to restore some level of trust in this institution that has been lost,” House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Steve Johnson R. Weyland said in an interview with Bridge Michigan. “It is our duty, if we want to better serve our constituents, we need to show them in certain ways what steps we are taking to make sure there has been no widespread corruption.”


Lawmakers have debated ethical reforms for years, but accusations against the former Speaker of the House of Representatives from Republicans have revived the impetus for such bills, the latter being introduced during Sunny week. Chatfield is under investigation by Michigan State Police after his daughter-in-law claimed he abused her, but he is also under close scrutiny for frequent travel when he was Speaker of the House of Representatives and paid his relatives and staff from nonprofits and campaign funds.

“We no longer need to be content with inaction,” said Sen. Jeremy Moss of Southfield in the Senate on Wednesday. “How many more legislative scandals do we all have to endure if the information that needs to be made available to the public is only disclosed during a criminal investigation?”

The bipartisan ethics proposals were approved by the Chamber stuck in the Senate. These measures, among other things, subject the governor’s office to a law on the disclosure of documents, require lawmakers to disclose personal financial interests and prohibit them from immediately becoming lobbyists after leaving office. Michigan and Idaho are the only two states without any disclosure requirements, according to the State National Legislative Conference.

Senate oversight committee chairman Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, said Wednesday on Michigan Bridge that hopes to introduce another package and start negotiations with the House of Representatives before a break in the legislature for the summer.

He said lawmakers could sign the deal as early as the fall.

“Everyone has a strong desire for the institution to be trusted and for us to be transparent and open to the public,” he told Most.

Legislative efforts stem from reports by Bridge Michigan and other news agencies about Chatfield’s lifestyle when he was rapporteur from 2019 to 2021. Fellow lawmakers told Bridge that Chatfield is postponing sessions on Thursdays to go on rides, and a consultant – David Forsmark – said Bridge Michigan that Chatfield had a reputation among Lansing’s lobbyists as a man who “came in, each time ordered the most expensive bottle of wine, and then found someone to charge.”

The Peninsula Fund, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Chatfield and run by its former chief of staff Rob Minard and his wife Anne Minard, has spent nearly half a million dollars on travel and food in 2020, records show. However, the group is not required to disclose its donors or explain how the money was spent because of its tax-exempt status under federal law.

Chatfield is also facing accusations by his daughter-in-law Rebecca Chatfield, who claims he sexually abused her when she was 15 or 16 when Lee was a teacher at a Christian school in northern Michigan run by his father Rusty. Married Lee Chatfield admitted to having sex with Rebecca, but said his relationship with her and other women was consensual.

Several bills in the new House of Representatives package appear to be in direct response to Chatfield.

Bills for the house 5926 and 5927 would prohibit public officials and members of their families from accepting or requiring travel or accommodation, and would require lobbyists to report expenditures on party lawmakers. Currently, lobbyists are required to report spending on food, beverages, travel, and housing for government officials if they spend more than $ 25 a month or more than $ 150 during a calendar year.

McBroom argued that lobbyist-sponsored travel is sometimes “critical” but also costly to lawmakers themselves. Instead of banning lobbyists from paying for travel and accommodation, McBroom said he was in favor of expanding disclosure rules.

“Sometimes you go on trips that are very important. … And what if I was invited to the Palisades to look at the nuclear power plant, and lunch was given because they wanted me to come, and personally it would be expensive for me to buy lunch and go there, “he said.

“I think clarity in knowing and having boundaries is probably better than just preventing these things from happening at all.”

The chairman of the House of Representatives’ Elections and Ethics Committee, Anne Bolin, a Republican from Brighton who co-authored the package, said she was ready for talks.

Another bill, sponsored by spokesman Bo Laff, R-Iron Mountain, prohibits candidates, elected officials and members of their families from receiving payment from companies, political organizations or any other groups associated with them. It will also require companies to disclose whether she paid state employees.

Other bills will apply stricter disclosure rules to government agencies. Under the package, government agencies must publish names and contact information of those who process record requests, respond to the request within two working days to confirm receipt and clarify in the recommendations if they accept electronic payments for making records.

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