LANSING — Days into Sunshine Week, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, is once again rushing to shut the blinds on bipartisan efforts to increase transparency, including personal financial disclosures that would let Michiganders know about potential conflicts of interests in Lansing.
Killing bills that would shed some light on the Legislature is just another day in Lansing for Shirkey. Earlier this year, the Senate Republican expressed his disapproval for straightforward legislation mandating elected officials file financial disclosures on themselves and their immediate families.
Shirkey went on to complain that such a bill would cause “heartburn” and serve as “fodder for [the media] to go after people.” Shocking but not unsurprising from the man whose company (Jackson-based Orbitform) managed to secure nearly $4 million in Paycheck Protection Program funding over the past year while COVID-19 relief stalls in his chamber.
In addition to blocking the release of more personal financial disclosures, Shirkey has also claimed that allowing the public to request Legislature records could “discourage negotiations, discourage conversation.”
“As is standard, Mike Shirkey has found yet another way to use his position to serve a constituency of one,” said Lavora Barnes, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. “Shirkey and his fellow Republicans have opposed even the simplest transparency measures at every turn. Michigan families deserve to know why Shirkey continues to support helping lawmakers hide potential conflicts of interest by blocking these key efforts to boost transparency.”