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WATCH: Benson discusses legislative agenda for government transparency

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Posted at 9:09 AM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 11:50:06-04

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson held a news conference Monday morning to discuss bills in the state Legislature that she believes will help improve government transparency.

The state's House oversight committee recently heard testimony on the issue, with backers saying the bills are particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: WATCH: House oversight committee hears testimony on government transparency bills

Watch the news conference:

"My legislative agenda would take Michigan from worst to first in government transparency, shine the light on dark money in politics and stop public corruption," Benson said. "These are things lawmakers must do if they are serious about rebuilding public trust in our elected government."

The Center for Public Integrity in 2015 ranked Michigan 50th among all states in government transparency.

SEE MORE: The fight for transparency: 7 Investigators explore Michigan's public records rules

Benson's legislative agenda aims to do the following:

- Expand the Freedom of Information Act so it applies to the governor and the state Legislature
- Require personal financial disclosures from elected officials
- Require more frequent campaign disclosure than the current quarterly requirement
- Require all PACs, Super PACs and 527 committees to report and close the administrative account loophole by requiring reporting of all receipts and disbursements
- End the "Express Advocacy" reporting exception by creating a threshold definition for electioneering in the Michigan Campaign Finance Act
- Tighten LLC reporting requirements to ensure secret and foreign money does not enter our elections
- Ban foreign money in Michigan elections, as state law only bars it from Super PACs
- Require former legislators who are doing "legislative consulting" to register and report as lobbyists
- Eliminate the potential for quid-pro-quo corruption and "pay to play" by banning companies (and associated individuals with a controlling interest) that receive state grants or contracts from making political contributions
- Enforce the Conflict of Interest Act to identify legislative conflicts of interest.

"State lawmakers can demonstrate real leadership by passing strong, enforceable legislation that would create true government transparency and accountability," Benson said. "I look forward to working with them to that end, while my administration and our department continue to operate in full transparency."