Now that a slew of felony and misdemeanor charges have been filed in what many are dubbing a political conspiracy on the part of former Oakland County Democratic Party officials, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has announced two proposals she is backing to “allow all Michigan citizens to follow the money and see who is behind a new political party.”
“We need to make sure the people and political parties we see on the ballot are who they say they are,” Johnson, the former Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds, stated in a press release issued last week. “Efforts to deceive voters rob every legitimate voter and put our liberties and freedoms at risk.”
Specifically, Johnson wants to make it so that part of the campaign finance disclosure process for registering a new political party includes the disclosure of petition circulation activities. Currently, according to Johnson’s office, financial disclosure is only required for the election of a candidate or the qualification, passage or defeat of a ballot question.
In addition, the state’s top elections official is calling for the requirement that public notices be filed prior to holding a convention for a minor political party, which she said Washington State and Oregon already require in a newspaper at least 10 days in advance of the convention.
“She’s reacting to a very real situation,” said Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “I think these seem to be very reasonable requirements and I think it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
It was also announced that further details on other initiatives involving voter integrity, campaign finance and election reform will be unveiled in a State of the Secretary of State’s Office speech to be held on April 19.
The impetus for the proposed changes is the so-called “Tea Party” scandal that is embroiling former Oakland County Democratic Party Chairman Michael McGuinness and former party Operations Director Jason Bauer, both of whom are facing charges for their alleged role in the political fracas.
McGuinness faces six counts of forgery and perjury, while Bauer faces the same counts, plus three other charges for allegedly violating provisions of the Michigan Notary Public Act when he notarized what were allegedly fraudulent candidate affidavits for a trio of candidates running for two Oakland County board seats — including the 2nd District Board of Commissioners seat, which represents Highland Township, as well as several other Oakland County communities — and a state Senate seat.