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Good-Government Groups Praise Whitmer's Transparency Measures

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Friday, January 4, 2019   

LANSING, Mich. – Progressive clean-government groups are applauding new Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for taking action on ethics reform right out of the gate.

Whitmer issued two executive orders on Thursday. They require state employees to use official email addresses while at work, and to refrain from political campaign activities while on the clock.

Elena Nunez, director of state operations with the group Common Cause, says the changes are a good start to restore people's faith in the state government.

"To have confidence in government, we have to have transparency,” says Nunez. “So, to have the governor come out and require that public business be done using public email addresses is an important step forward."

Opponents say the steps were unnecessary and politically motivated. Both measures are seen as a reaction to incidents alleged to have taken place in outgoing Attorney General Bill Schuette's office, and both are the subject of ongoing litigation.

Lonnie Scott is executive director of Progress Michigan, the group behind those lawsuits. He says the next big step would be to reform the state's Freedom of Information Act – FOIA – laws, that govern which state records can be made public.

"Right now, Michigan is one of the only states in the country that specifically bars FOIA from reaching legislators or the executive office," says Scott.

The very first executive order issued by Gov. Whitmer required state employees who learn of a threat to public safety, health or welfare to report it up the chain of command, and make sure it is investigated. It's designed to prevent a repeat of mistakes made during the Flint water crisis.




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