Former UP Legislator Indicted, Transparency and Sunshine for Michigan Public Officials, and From the World Around Us



This Week in RI

On Wednesday we’ll be publishing the latest article by Michael and John Broadway, where they discuss the 2022-2023 Census population estimates and what they mean for UP counties, and the variance and uncertainty involved when it comes to the UP.

Former Upper Peninsula Legislator Indicted

Former State Representative Lee Chatfield (R) was indicted on 13 counts of embezzlement and conducting a criminal enterprise. Chatfield represented the 107th House District, which included the eastern UP and counties in lower Michigan. He also served as Speaker of the House and was the youngest Speaker ever elected by House members. His term as Speaker ended in 2021.

He is charged with using a non-profit organization (501 © 4) to launder funds to him, his family and some of his staff. Chatfield’s wife was also charged in the indictment as being part of this criminal enterprise. reports that: “the probe only began when Lee Chatfiled’s sister in law, Rebekah, came forward more than two years ago and accused him of sexual assault.” The assaults are reported to have begun when she was 15 years old and continued after she married Chatfild’s brother. He was not charged with the criminal sexual assaults in this round of indictments.

Another former House Speaker, Rick Johnson (R) was charged with corruption that occurred after he was Speaker. Last year he was sentenced to 55 months in prison for taking $152,000 in bribes while he led a state board that oversaw marijuana licenses. He was appointed to that board by former Governor Rick Snyder (R).

Michigan’s campaign finance laws have been ranked very low among states.

Transparency and Sunshine for Michigan Public Officials

Legislators are now required to file financial disclosure for the first time in Michigan history. Voters last year passed ballot proposal 22-1 that made this requirement mandatory.

The reports will require disclosure by the legislators and statewide officials and must include sources of earned and unearned income, liabilities, assets and gifts from lobbyists. The report does not require that they disclose the specific dollar amounts nor the names of the lobbyists or lobbying organizations.

Many believe that this needs to be addressed and that the requirements do not go far enough. The report many observed does not shed enough light on where legislators and statewide officials get their money from and that there are gaping loopholes.

From the World Around Us

Research is showing  that half of renters and homeowners are struggling to afford monthly housing payments. Also across the US families are skipping essentials like meals and medical care to keep a roof over their heads.

Observers from around the Upper Peninsula see evidence of the same impact on families in their communities.

Inflation is of course a major impact on all families. Rural families are especially hit by the impact of inflation. Here is what some of the itemized inflation numbers look like over the past year:

  • Rent: 5.9%
  • Car repairs: 12%
  • Baby formula: 10%
  • Auto gasoline: 1.3%
  • Home health care for the elderly: 14.2%

Quotes That Make Us Go Hmmm

“Insight and knowledge come from curiosity and humility.”  Charlie Baker.

“I cannot stand the theatrical, prosecutorial interview, the interview designed to draw attention to the interviewer, full of either mawkish, false sentiment or theatrically belligerent questioning.” Robert MacNeil, National Public Television.

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David Haynes

David Haynes has served as a professor of public administration and public policy. He previously has served as President of Northern Michigan University. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.


  1. Rich Cook on April 22, 2024 at 9:29 pm

    At one time Michigan was known for “ Good Government.” More transparency would help restore that reputation.

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