News Release: State Attorney General Agrees That Michigan Film Office Violated State Law by Failing to Disclose Required Film Spending Information

AG’s letter is released during Michigan Senate hearing this afternoon; Film Office finally produces data legally required in earlier report

For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 30, 2009

Contact: Patrick J. Wright
Senior Legal Analyst

MIDLAND — The office of the Michigan attorney general has issued a letter finding that the Michigan Film Office violated state law by failing to disclose in an annual report last month the Michigan expenditures made by each movie production company that received refundable tax credits in 2008 under the state’s aggressive Michigan Film Incentive program. The letter became public today during a Michigan Senate Finance Committee hearing, and it confirmed the conclusion reached last month by Mackinac Center Senior Legal Analyst Patrick J. Wright, who, in a March 19 news release, was the first to draw public attention to the Film Office’s violation of state law. The Senate hearing also witnessed disclosure of the required movie-by-movie spending data by Film Office Director Janet Lockwood.

“With the question of the Film Office’s reporting responsibilities now settled, important concerns remain,” observed Wright, who attended the hearing and testified before the committee. “This statute is perfectly clear on the office’s reporting duties, but if Film Office officials felt that confidentiality concerns might prevent them from meeting their responsibilities under the law, they should have sought clarifying legal advice much sooner. The fact that they didn’t is a deeply troubling statement about their administration of this program. The Film Office was aware that there was great concern about the wisdom of the film incentive, which consumes large sums of taxpayers’ dollars, and they should have recognized the importance of this information in helping to weigh that.”