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Candidates announce plans to increase transparency in state government

Several candidates for state office in Michigan are revealing plans to improve transparency in government.

It’s national Sunshine Week – a time when officials and reporters shed light on access to public information.In Michigan, candidates for state office are using the opportunity to announce how they would improve transparency.

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced a plan to improve government transparency today, but some call it a political stunt in Schuette’s bid for governor.  

State Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, has made transparency in state government his mission. He’s introduced bills – some of them similar to Schuette’s proposal. For example, both want the governor’s office to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

But Moss said Schuette has been in a unique position as attorney general to improve transparency. And he hasn’t.  

“So where has he been for the last eight years as attorney? Now, very conveniently, he’s running for governor and running on transparency, but he’s been totally off duty the last eight years,” Moss said.

Schuette’s plan would also ban former state elected officials from becoming lobbyists for five years, and it would require candidates and office holders to release their tax returns.

Democrat Jocelyn Benson is running for Secretary of State. She called for more campaign finance disclosure requirements, including a mandate that unions and corporations publicly file reports in certain cases. She also wants to require public officials to file financial disclosure statements.

Benson says people have a right to know how politicians get their money.

“It’s the job of the secretary of state to amplify people’s voices in the political process, stand up for them, make sure they have a voice,” she said.

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
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