LANSING — State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced House Bill 5575 today that would prohibit the Michigan House of Representatives and the Michigan Senate from entering into contracts similar to the one the Senate entered when it signed a contract to move Senate offices into the Capitol View building in downtown Lansing. Dianda’s bill has co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.
“The Senate is moving out of a building that is bought and paid for and into a building where they will pay rent to a well-connected political contributor to the Republican party, and to me and my constituents, that looks like political favoritism,” said Dianda. “My bill will prevent this redirection of the taxpayers’ dollars into the pockets of wealthy political contributors from ever happening again.”
Dianda’s bill would prohibit the House and Senate from entering into a contract to purchase, develop or lease a building or grounds to be used by elected officials if that building or grounds also houses a lobbyist or lobbying firm as defined in Michigan law. The Capitol View project will cost taxpayers $134 million over the next 30 years. The project did not have an appraisal, leaving taxpayers in the dark as to the true value of the property being purchased. The Lansing city assessor said the project was overpriced to such a degree that he would not be using the sale in assessing property values in the city. The developer behind the Capitol View project is a GOP donor who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and Republican-aligned political organizations.
“Michigan is poised to become the first state in the nation where duly elected officials will share the same office building as registered lobbyists,” said Dianda. “It will be one-stop shopping for special interests in Lansing, and this form of cronyism should not be allowed. As Michigan ranks dead last among states for transparency and ethics, we owe it to all of our constituents to restore faith and trust in our government.”