LANSING, MI — State Sen. Jim Runestad on Tuesday announced he is drafting anti-corruption legislation to close the problematic “consultant loophole” used by former House Speaker Rick Johnson, who was recently sentenced to prison time for his role in a bribery scandal that also included two marijuana-industry lobbyists and an Oakland County businessman.
“This loophole within the state’s lobbying laws is apparently big enough to drive Batman’s Batmobile through. We are seeing its damaging consequences firsthand, and it’s time to put the brakes on this underhanded tool for corruption,” said Runestad, R-White Lake.
According to a recent report by The Detroit News, “A consultant in Lansing’s state government industrial complex is the easiest end run around the state’s lax lobbying laws. If there’s a way to work for a business client or interest group without (directly) engaging state officials for their vote or administrative approvals, people just say they’re consulting clients, and they don’t have to publicly report this activity, unlike lobbyists.
“The corruption of Rick Johnson… might have been detected earlier had he been required to disclose that marijuana lobbyists at the Philip Alan Brown Consulting paid him $350,000 that prosecutors say came directly from Green Peak Industries, a marijuana grower and retailer that sold its products at Skymint stores until its recent financial implosion.”
Runestad said his legislation will help “close the consultant loophole by amending Michigan’s lobby laws to require any consultant of a business, trade association, public employer, union or other entity with business before the state to register and report their clients, and disclose any money spent on gifts, dinners, trips, et cetera on elected officials.”