BRITE Act aims to tackle dark money in politics

LANSING, Mich., April 18, 2024 — The first round of testimony began with the package of bills that make up the Bringing Reforms in Integrity, Transparency and Ethics (BRITE) Act. This package of bills plans to improve standards for government ethics, transparency and accountability, curtail the influence of lobbying and financial interests and increase enforcement of election and campaign finance law violations. Testimony on two bills, House Bills 5583 and 5586, was heard today.

“These bills are long overdue,” said state Rep. Erin Byrnes (D-Dearborn), chair of the House Committee on Ethics and Oversight and sponsor of HB 5583. “It’s time that we put the people of Michigan first, and hold our elected officials and candidates accountable. However, while we can make laws that will attempt to hold our elected officials and candidates to the highest degree possible, without a way to enforce it, the laws would be toothless. That’s why my bill provides enforcement power to the Michigan Secretary of State, and with this power the secretary will be able to stop real-time campaign finance violations and abuse.”

Byrnes/Hope testimony

State Rep. Erin Byrnes (D-Dearborn), right, chair of the House Ethics and Oversight Committee, testifies on House Bills 5583 and 5586 alongside state Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) on Thursday, April 18, 2024, at the House Office Building in Lansing.

HB 5583 would amend the Michigan Campaign Finance Act to allow the secretary of state, for alleged violations of the act, to apply to Ingham County Circuit Court for injunctive relief. This will allow the Secretary of State to act on real-time campaign finance violations and abuses.

HB 5586, sponsored by state Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt), committee vice chair, would close the revolving door from state official to lobbyist. It would prohibit the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, or a state senator or representative from engaging in certain lobbying activities for one year after the last date of their term of office.

“This legislation is a crucial step toward restoring faith in our government. It’s time to ensure that our elected officials serve the people of Michigan, not special interests. Let’s put the power back in the hands of the people, where it belongs,” Hope said.