Controversy over Terri Lynn Land’s personal and political finances underscores need to pass Senate Bill 168, House Bill 4469

Lansing – Michigan House and Senate Democrats called on the Legislature today to take up legislation that would require candidates for elective office and state and local officials to file a financial disclosure report. Senate Bill 168, introduced by Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren), and House Bill 4469, introduced by Representative Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge), would both require personal financial disclosures from appointed and elected officials, including the administrative, legislative and judicial branches and members of university boards. The push for action comes on the heels of news reports that U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has self-funded her current campaign with $2.9 million in contributions despite not having $2.9 million in her own assets.

“Anyone who is running for elective office and wants the public’s trust should have to fully disclose their personal finances, simple as that,” said Senator Bieda. “Campaign finances always court controversy, and today’s news is just the latest in a long line of examples why we need more openness and transparency in the process. It’s only because we have federal disclosure laws in place that this discrepancy with Ms. Land’s finances was even discovered. We need to shore up our state laws as well.”

Representative Abed introduced HB 4469 in March 2013, but sadly, the chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee has refused to take up the bill. Senate Bill 168 was introduced by Senator Bieda more than a year and a half ago, on February 7, 2013, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Local Governments and Elections the same day. It has not had any legislative action under the Senate Republican Majority since. “People deserve an honest, accountable and transparent election process, and that is what these bills would create,” said Abed. “We need strong regulation of independent expenditures and financial disclosures from appointed and elected officials. That way, we can hold people accountable and ensure that they are not just looking out for their own financial gain.”

Terri Lynn Land has raised several questions regarding her campaign finances, both with her past donations to her Secretary of State campaign claiming employment with Land & Company that she has now vehemently denied and in self-funding her current campaign for U.S. Senate with $2.9 million despite not appearing to have the individual assets to do it. Speculation is that some of that money came from Land’s husband, despite campaign finance laws which state that spouses can only donate $5,200 total to campaigns.

The Michigan Democratic Party has called for an investigation by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) into whether Land broke the law by self-funding $2.9 million to her campaign despite not having that much in individual assets. If Land is found in violation of campaign finance law, she could face a civil penalty of up to $5.8 million.