State Rep. Tom Kunse, Republican vice chair of the House Ethics and Oversight Committee, today issued the following statement regarding potential conflicts of interest involving Appropriations Chair Angela Witwer:
“The tangled web woven by Rep. Witwer is unethical and wrong. Legislators are elected to make decisions that help the people they serve – not to boost their own personal business interests.
“This is the exact type of situation I wanted to prevent through the financial disclosure plan my Republican colleagues and I introduced earlier this year. Sadly, the Democrat majority has refused to hold a hearing on our bills, despite the constitutional amendment adopted by voters last year to require financial disclosure forms for legislators.
“If the ethics committee we proposed were already in place it could provide important clarity. The public deserves to know the truth. When did step down as the owner of Edge Partnerships? Has she continued to collect a profit from the firm while serving as House Appropriations Chair?
“The revelations surrounding Rep. Witwer prove this is an issue that warrants immediate attention. I urge the Democrats in control to take swift action and bring our plan up for a vote.”
House Bills 4261-72, introduced by Kunse and other House Republicans on March 14, would create constitutionally required financial disclosure forms for lawmakers, so conflicts of interest can be better regulated, and officials can be held accountable to the people they serve. The bills also prohibit legislators from voting when they or an immediate family member could personally benefit, expand the Freedom of Information (FOIA) Act to ensure the governor and legislators will no longer be exempt from Michigan’s sunshine laws, and form new bipartisan ethics committees.
The permanent panels – one in each chamber – will have an equal party split and alternating co-chairs to enforce ethics and conflict of interest laws, issue advisory opinions and recommend disciplinary action. In addition, the committees will be able to receive and investigate public complaints about legislator misconduct – a critical component to ensuring state government is accountable to the people it represents.
“Last year was such a success that we had to run it back again this year,” said Kunse. “Things can get tense in Lansing, but we’re all here because we want to make things better. The Legislative Softball Game allows us to throw politics aside, embrace bipartisanship, and raise money for a really important organization.”
“Five years after announcing her Michigan Sunshine Plan, the governor failed to even mention the historically inadequate transparency legislation she signed last year,” said Kunse, the Republic vice chair of the House Ethics and Oversight Committee. “Her silence is deafening. Gov. Whitmer talked endlessly about sunshine when she came into office. Six years later, both Lansing and our transparency laws are covered in fog.”
State Rep. Tom Kunse, R-Clare, will soon host local office hours in Evart and Clare. The meetings will take place at the following times and locations: Saturday, Feb. 10 Evart Library; 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.; 104 N Main St. in Evart. Monday, Feb. 19 Cops and Doughnuts; 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.; 521 N McEwan St. […]
“It’s frightening to consider how many kids may have been failed by the broken system in the 18 years since MDHHS was originally sued for negligence,” said Kunse, who serves on the House Ethics and Oversight Committee. “MDHHS is clearly incapable of creating meaningful change. The Oversight Committee must demand answers and explore solutions for these failures. This is urgent. We’re not talking about tax policy; we’re talking a state department failing vulnerable kids.”