News Release: House Minority Leader Sets the Transparency Standard

Rep. Elsenheimer reveals more payroll data than any elected official in state government, according to director of Mackinac Center’s “Show Michigan the Money” project

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Contact: Kenneth M. Braun
"Show Michigan the Money" project

MIDLAND - Michigan House Minority Leader Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, has used his state Web site to publish the names and salaries of the 11 public employees working directly for him. Last week, Kenneth M. Braun, director of the Mackinac Center's "Show Michigan the Money" project, issued a Sunshine Week challenge to politicians who talk about transparency without producing details of their own tax-funded payrolls. Elsenheimer accepted the challenge and now reveals all the details of his nearly $438,000 annual staffing budget. No politician in state government is so transparent about a public payroll of this size, Braun said.

"Every taxpayer should be able to quickly discover who is working for them and how much they are paid," Braun said. "Rep. Elsenheimer has demonstrated leadership by example and we have a right to expect the same from all the state's political leadership."

Rep. Elsenheimer follows the example established in February by two members of his caucus: Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Kentwood.

Braun suggested that two other legislative leaders - House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester - should provide the public with names and salary data for the entire legislative payroll. Braun added that Attorney General Mike Cox, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and the entire Michigan Supreme Court should do the same for their respective offices.

Last year, also at the request of the Show Michigan the Money project, the Secretary of State began posting the most detailed expenditure report provided by any state department. However, this report does not provide names and salary data.

"These examples demonstrate what can readily be made available to the taxpayers," said Braun. "We shouldn't have to wait any longer to get this information from all of state government."

But the state politician with the largest public payroll has been absent from the transparency fight, Braun said. When asked to provide the state's public payroll names and salaries last year, the Office of the Governor responded that such information would provide "little value to the taxpayer."

"Nobody could do more to put this public information where the public can read it than Gov. Granholm, yet no state official has worked harder to find reasons to evade this responsibility," concluded Braun. "It's Sunshine Week, and it's time for the governor to show Michigan the money."