Michigan takes another step backward
It would be difficult to imagine a more transparent politician than Bill Schuette — transparent in his motives, that is. Schuette recently made official his intention to seek the governor’s office, although cynics have read it in every action his office has taken in the past eight years.
Recently, his office announced it was joining a 41-state coalition intending to prove that the manufacturers and distributors of highly addictive opioid painkillers contributed to the epidemic of addiction and overdoses. Pinning the problem on a handful of pharmaceutical companies would be quite a feat, considering that everyone from doctors and patients to hospital accreditation agencies to health insurance companies to government agencies has had some role in the problem.
Democrats were immediately amused by Schuette’s new activism. They pointed out that he has received more than $67,000 in campaign donations from pharmaceutical companies. And they point out that he has been a strident defender of Michigan’s 1995 drug liability immunity law, which means even if the opioid investigation finds pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors culpable, Schuette couldn’t do anything about it. He sponsored the bill; he should know what it does.
We know about his links to the drug industry because of post-Watergate campaign finance reforms. How much money he and other Michigan candidates get from pharmaceutical firms and other industries and entities could soon be none of our business. That’s because, by the same party-line split that passed the 1995 immunity law, state Republicans have created another law that makes Michigan stand out.
Not only do we have the most far-reaching drug immunity law, we now also have the nation’s darkest black-money law. Lawmakers passed the law Tuesday, going beyond Citizens United decision to allow any entity — business, union, super PAC or other group — to spend as much as it wants to elect any candidate or pass any ballot issue, and largely avoid having to report it. Gov. Rick Snyder was quick to sign it Wednesday.
We should not have been surprised. Michigan is rock bottom when it comes to transparency, ethics and accountability in government. Why be last when you can be worse?
— Times Herald (Port Huron)