Dark money reform efforts in Michigan up against regulatory, legislative hurdles

LANSING, Mich. (FOX 2) - Should lawmakers have to reveal their donors and the amount of money send to them?

Republican state Sen. Ed McBroom, (R-Vulcan), certainly thinks so. Dark money accounts shield the finances that lawmakers benefit from, which can also mask any problematic influences behind their campaigns.

But campaign finance reform is tricky, the UP lawmaker told Tim Skubick.

"It's a really difficult issue - this disclosure. It seems like it should be simple," he said inside the capitol building.

One issue is that Internal Revenue Service rules make it tricky to reform campaign finance disclosures at the state level. Democrat Julie Brixie of Meridian Township argues it could be a constitutional issue related to the right of corporations to make political contributions.

A disclosure may violate that right to privacy, Brixie says.

As a result, McBroom is looking at other ways of untangling the web.

"That's why I'm kind of looking at the standpoint of how can we restrict their usages because I don't know how to fix the disclosure issue without the feds helping us," he said. "There's ways we can nibble around the edges on this, but the real fix is to bring back office holder accounts."

Years ago, lawmakers were required to reveal donors and contribution limits under those office holder accounts. But that rule was voted away.

House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) is pushing legislation that would order lawmakers to report that they have office holder accounts or an affiliation with them - but not full disclosure.

"It tells us more than we know today which is nothing. We have no requirements for any type of disclosure of any affiliation of these dark money accounts and people wanna know," said Brixie.