Raising The Grade for Government Ethics: Michigan Campaign Finance Network

Rich Robinson, Executive Director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network has spent the last twelve years investigating the massive infusion of money into politics and its influence not only on politicians and politics, but on how it has changed who governs and holds political power in our state. 

A2Ethics.org went to Lansing to get an overview of the ethics laws governing our public officials. When we first started looking into these laws, we simply wanted to find out why Ann Arbor local officials don't see the need to establish a city ethics policy.

Then we began to do some additional research. Our learning curve has been steep. We discovered Michigan received a failing grade (yes, an "F") from the 2012 State Integrity Investigation, an ambitious nationwide project conducted by the Center for Public Integrity, which measures the corruption risk and ethical hazards posed by state accountability, disclosure and ethics laws. According to the 2012 report, Michigan's potential for public official wrongdoing is very high indeed, what with several of our current desultory ethics laws ineffectually supported by weak enforcement power.

Rich tells us why Michigan received such poor grades, including those we are most interested in: accountability, personal financial disclosure and ethics standards applied to public officeholders. And Rich is a knowledgeable and outstanding teacher.

On the drive back to Ann Arbor, it became clear that if A2Ethics.org wants to help raise awareness about the importance of a city ethics policy, we simultaneously need help to raise Michigan's state ethics law grades through advocating the many reforms proposed by Rich Robinson and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.