Michigan ranks dead last in accountability and transparency according to new nationwide study


According to a report just issued by The Center for Public Integrity, Michigan not only receives a failing grade when it comes to accountability and transparency, but, according to the data, we’re less accountable and transparent than every other state in the entire union. Following is a clip from their report on Michigan, followed by The Center for Public Integrity’s detailed breakdown of Michigan’s performance across over a dozen different categories.

In November 2013, Michigan lawmakers revealed the lengths to which they’d go to maintain the state’s secret system of funding election campaign activities.

A Senate committee was meeting in the Capitol to discuss and approve a bill that would double the maximum amount that individuals could contribute to legislative, executive and judicial candidates. The senators were told that the higher limits were unnecessary because 99 percent of Michiganians never give the maximum amount.

Then something puzzling happened. In a rare move, the legislators called a recess midway through the session. A lobbyist in the audience who was friendly with the committee chairman, it was later learned, received an urgent phone call warning that Secretary of State Ruth Johnson had just announced new administrative rules requiring the disclosure of campaign donors in all circumstances.

When the committee reconvened, an amendment was hastily attached to the legislation, which would override Johnson’s decision and preserve Michigan’s “dark money” campaign practices. House and Senate approval of the bill soon followed, as did Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature.

“We don’t have full public disclosure and it’s not because good people failed to do the right thing, it’s because those bastards did the wrong thing. It was a hostile action,” said Rich Robinson, the state’s top campaign watchdog at the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “And the fruits of those actions were tens of millions of dollars of undisclosed campaign cash.”

The shadowy aspects of Michigan’s money-driven politics serve as a key reason why the state ranks last among the 50 states with a grade of F and a numerical score of 51 out of 100 from the State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven assessment of state government transparency and accountability by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Michigan received an F in 10 of the 13 categories of government operations that were examined.

The first State Integrity report, released in 2012, gave Michigan a similar score – 58, an F, though the state ranked 44th that time. The two scores are not directly comparable, however, due to changes made to improve and update the project and its methodology…

And here’s how we ranked, category by category.


[Click here for The Center for Public Integrity’s methodology.]

I can’t say that I’m surprised, seeing as how we live in a state where our elected officials knowingly give us lead-contaminated water to drink, but I’d like to think that perhaps, just maybe, we’ve come to a point where we finally stand up and fight back. How many of these studies do we need to see before we actually do something about it?

For what it’s worth, Ann Arbor’s State Rep, Jeff Irwin, took to social media to say the following after reading the report referenced above. “Together with my Democratic colleagues,” he said, “I’ve been pushing to increase transparency and improve our ethics laws. Now, a national report comes out showing that Michigan has the weakest ethics laws in the nation. We’ll continue to push for better financial and campaign finance disclosure. The public deserves to know who is behind the dark money dominating our campaigns. We’ll continue to push for rules to end ‘pay to play’ in state contracts by prohibiting campaign contributors from gaining large government contracts. And, we’ll continue to try slowing the revolving door between the legislature and the lobby corps.” Wonderful intentions, to be sure, but what can really be accomplished while the Republican majority is in place? As Irwin himself asks, “Will we find partners for this important work to improve Michigan’s ethics laws?” …The answer, as we all know, is “No.”

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  1. Kelp
    Posted November 9, 2015 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Michigan Radio posted about this report as well. Here’s the best comment they got in response. Hopefully your readers will do better.

    “funded by George Soros’ Foundation to Promote an Open Society and the Tides Foundation. nuff said about who they are and their collectivist marxist agenda.”

  2. Peter Larson
    Posted November 10, 2015 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    Is it ok to let people live on contaminated sites in Ypsi?

  3. Lynne
    Posted November 10, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    This is not surprising to me but until Michigan voters start to demand better and start to vote better, we will continue on this path.

  4. Kelp
    Posted November 10, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    We need Martha Ford to clean house in Lansing too.

  5. Frogger
    Posted November 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    But none of this matters. All that matters is that we’re good for business. And we are.

    The Michigan Economic Development Corporation tweeted the following this afternoon.

    MI Econ Dev Corp. ‏@MEDC
    New report ranks #Michigan among nation’s Top 10 Pro-Business States and Most Improved State: http://ow.ly/UtTGy #econdev

10 Trackbacks

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  2. […] drinking water. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see, but I’m doubtful that, in this, the least transparent and accountable of all 50 states, we’ll ever see people interviewed on the record and under […]

  3. […] I’m sure, helped Michigan’s state government earn the title a few weeks back of being the least transparent and accountable of all 50 in the United […]

  4. […] just to recap, at a time when our state government was ranked 50th with regard to transparency and accountability, and the children of Flint are being poisoned, and the FBI is investigating the takeover of Detroit […]

  5. […] conservative backers. Long before the children of Flint were being poisoned, Snyder’s was the least transparent and accountable administration in the country, and we all knew it. So, while it’s nice to have folks everywhere coming out against Snyder […]

  6. […] the Republican House and Senate to destroy checks and balances, and creating what people agree is the least transparent and accountable state government in America, and, then, when it’s discovered that poor people are being poisoned, he has the nerve to […]

  7. […] And this, my friends, is how you earn a reputation for running the least accountable and transparent state government in the entire country. […]

  8. […] years. Maybe, in another state, a search like that would yield some results. In Michigan, though, where we just won the title of the least transparent and accountable state in the nation, such searches don’t generally yield much. I mean, I found that Snydeer promoted a […]

  9. […] the problem wasn’t that he, by employing his brilliant business mind, had created the least transparent and accountable state government in the entire country, but that not everyone in government got “the memo” that they were supposed to do more […]

  10. […] just to recap, at a time when our state government is ranked 50th with regard to transparency and accountability, and the children of Flint are being poisoned, and the FBI is investigating the takeover of Detroit […]

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