Senate Republicans are advancing a controversial plan that would strip incoming Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson of the power to enforce the state’s campaign finance laws. The Senate Elections Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would instead shift campaign finance oversight to a bipartisan committee. The six members would be picked from a list submitted by each of the two major political parties. The legislation is among a slew of lame-duck power play proposals by legislative Republicans, who will retain their majorities next year in the House and Senate as Democrats take over top statewide offices, including the secretary of state post that has been occupied by a Republican the past 24 years.
Supporters say the proposed “fair political practices commission” is modeled on the Federal Election Commission, but critics say that bipartisan panel has proven ineffective because of routine deadlocks.
“The fear I have is that this commission will not be able to accomplish anything because of the 3-3 divide and because these commission members will be accountable to the political parties and not the voters like the secretary of state,” said Craig Mauger, a watchdog with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.