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.
“Yesterday’s big winners are bipartisanship and the Lansing City Rescue Mission,” said Kunse. “In a time when it can seem like division dominates the headlines, it’s encouraging to see colleagues from different parties come together for a common goal: supporting our capital city. We’ve shown that we can find common ground, not only on the softball field, but also in our dedication to helping those less fortunate.”
“This is not about Republicans versus Democrats,” said Kunse. “It’s a unique opportunity for public servants from across the state, and across the aisle to enjoy a spirited softball game and unite in our shared commitment to making a positive impact on our communities.”