GOP moves to dilute power of governor, AG, secretary of state

By Beth LeBlanc & Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News

Lansing — With Democrats set to take over top statewide offices next year, Michigan Republicans are considering proposals that would allow the Legislature to intervene in legal battles and shift oversight of the state’s campaign finance law to a new commission.

The lame-duck power plays would limit the power of Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Democrats have not held all three posts since 1990.

A House bill introduced Thursday by state Rep. Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker, and quickly praised by Republican leaders seeks to guarantee the GOP-led Legislature could intervene in legal battles involving state laws that Democrats may be hesitant to defend.

A separate proposal from Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, would shift oversight of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act from the Secretary of State’s Office to a newly proposed “fair political practices commission.”


Michigan House Democrats in a statement called the legislation "a shameful power grab" that undercuts the authority of the attorney general. 

"It threatens the separation of powers, wastes taxpayer dollars, and raises a number of constitutional questions about legislator standing," said Samantha Hart, a spokeswoman for the House Democrats.

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