Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Importance of Government Transparency

Benson has a set of proposals that she hopes will bring Michigan from the bottom of the list in the country when it comes to transparency.

It’s Sunshine Week, a special time in government each year to take a closer look at ways our governing bodies can be more transparent and accountable. Michigan has consistently ranked the worst state in the country for transparency.

“I think we should all be finding ways to increase transparency. It is a balance between working with the Legislature and using executive authorities.” — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

The governor’s office and the Legislature are both exempt from public records requests, making it challenging for residents and journalists to obtain information. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has a new set of proposals meant to make Michigan more transparent and accountable.


Listen: SOS Jocelyn Benson talks about Michigan government and accountability.


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Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is Michigan’s 43rd secretary of state. She says there are two things that cause Michigan to be ranked at or near the bottom when it comes to government transparency: “One is the FOIA exemption … and [the other is that] we don’t require our lawmakers to disclose their finances.”

On the importance of transparency of elected officials to voters, Benson explains that “essentially our job as voters is to be able to hold those who make decisions on our behalf, our elected officials, accountable,” she says. When discussing the ways that elected officials respond to calls for transparency, Benson believes it’s a process that requires collaboration. “I think we should all be finding ways to increase transparency. It is a balance between working with the Legislature and using executive authorities,” she says.

Web story written by Allise Hurd 

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