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Michigan House passes misconduct settlement disclosure bills

Michigan Capitol building in Lansing on a summer day.
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
The Michigan Capitol building in Lansing.

Some details about sexual assault or harassment settlements involving elected officials could become public upon request. That’s under a pair of bills passed Wednesday in the state House of Representatives.

The package would require the public disclosure of the dollar amount of the settlement and the name of the elected official involved.

State Rep. Andrew Fink (R-Adams Township) is among the bills’ sponsors. He said taxpayers deserve to know if their money goes toward these settlements.

“Whether it’s an elected legislator or elected executive, which what my bill covers, having that be exposed to the sunshine [and] the public view seems like an obvious preference,” Fink said.

The bills would not allow for the public release of accusers’ names.

“We don’t want to discourage a person from making a claim, but we do want to both discourage the behavior because you know it won’t be kept secret on the taxpayer’s dime and encourage openness about how taxpayer dollars are being spent,” Fink said.

State Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck), who co-sponsors another bill in the package, echoed Fink.

“Anything that moves us toward more transparency and more accountability for our public officials, there is no reason why any legislator should be opposed to it and there’s no reason why any public official should be opposed to it,” Aiyash said.

Both bills in the package passed without opposition.

They now head to the state Senate.

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