University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Ethics & Transparency in Michigan: A State Falling Behind

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March 2019

Nick Guisinger

Abstract

The United States Government and the various state governments all have laws establishing rules around government ethics and transparency. These are put in place to avoid conflicts of interest or corruption among public officials and to ensure that the public has access to information about their public servants and can hold them accountable if necessary. This paper aims to analyze the government ethics and transparency laws on the books in the state of Michigan as they relate to three areas: application of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), financial disclosure rules in the state, and regulations on public officials entering the lobbying or consulting industry. This paper will also recommend changes in these areas, specifically recommending that exemptions from FOIA be closed for the Governor’s Office, Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and State Legislature, that state lawmakers be required to file financial disclosure forms, and that some regulation be put in place prohibiting officials from entering the lobbying industry immediately after leaving office.

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