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Michigan senator, state at odds over financial disclosure law he helped write

State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, speaking into microphone
State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, is a longtime proponent of government transparency and says a new process for filing financial disclosures is cumbersome and filled with problems. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Senate Republicans)
  • Sen. Ed McBroom, crucial in passing Michigan’s financial disclosure law, is the only sitting lawmaker yet to file an online report with the state
  • McBroom says the online portal is buggy and overly complicated
  • State elections officials say McBroom isn’t following the law but say they won’t fine him — this time

LANSING — State Sen. Ed McBroom has spent years fighting for government transparency and helped craft a law requiring lawmakers and candidates to file reports detailing their incomes, outside interests and dealings with lobbyists.

But one month after a deadline for public officials to file their first reports, the western Upper Peninsula Republican is listed as the only lawmaker not to file.


He says it’s the result of a cumbersome system riddled with mistakes. The Secretary of State blames McBroom, saying that it provided ample opportunities for training and help.

Either way, it’s the latest bump in the road for a disclosure process that state voters approved in 2022 but whose rollout has been less than smooth.


“I thought this was an excellent case example of how bureaucrats take the law and expand it out and make everybody miserable when it comes to filling out these forms when the legislators who passed the laws don’t even envision it being that way,” McBroom told Bridge Michigan.

He claims the state has implemented a “difficult and unwieldy'' program. It’s so bad, McBroom said, he had to spell his own last name wrong just to access the system. 

Even so, other lawmakers managed to access the system, and Secretary of State officials say McBroom is technically in violation of the law, which is punishable by fines of $25 per day up to $1,000.

Secretary of State spokesperson Angela Benander said the agency oversaw a “successful launch” of the portal under “a very tight timeline.” 

Bob Burns, an official with the state’s Bureau of Elections, has called the portal an “interim solution” intended to meet “all of the legal and all of the data requirements” before a better one is launched later this year or early 2025.

The disclosures — which for lawmakers and top elected officials were due April 15 — were mandated after voters approved Proposal 1 in 2022 and lawmakers, including McBroom, wrote the measure into law the next year.

The reports list assets, liabilities, income sources, gifts, travel reimbursements, future employment and other jobs. But critics have pointed out that most disclosures are voluntary, making the effort virtually useless.

Candidates for public office have until May 15 to file the reports, one month after lawmakers.

Benander said lawmakers and candidates “were given specific instructions for who they should contact if they were having any issues with the technology or any questions.” 

McBroom is alone among the 38 members of the Senate and 110 members of the House to fail to publicly post a financial disclosure statement online, she said, adding that the state has “no record” of him asking for help in filing.

McBroom still sent the disclosure to the state’s elections bureau by email. It detailed little, like many other lawmakers’ filings, listing his associations with agricultural groups and the fact he’d received $14.88 in food and drink gifts from a lobbyist with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

The bureau waived his late fees, with Burns writing in an April 25 letter the decision came due to the fact he sent in a disclosure in an “alternate format” ahead of the deadline and that the “filing represented a new process for both filers and the Department,” among other things.

“However, the Bureau does not consider your report filed in the format required by the Act,” he wrote, adding that future reports “should be filed through the internet-accessible system.”

McBroom’s issue appears to be the most severe with the new system, but a review by Bridge shows it is not without glitches.

In some instances, public officials including Attorney General Dana Nessel say they filled out details about their salary that did not initially appear in the system. Benander, the Secretary of State spokesperson, said such errors did not happen.

She acknowledged the bureau received “several dozen calls and emails” from lawmakers and staffers before the April 15 deadline about issues from problems logging into the system to needing clarification on some terms.


McBroom said he gave up after spending “three hours just to get an account” after attending log in to the state’s disclosure portal, He said the system also asks for information not required by law, like his campaign committee’s name and number.

“I understand receiving the data in this format is not the expectation,” McBroom wrote in an April letter to the Bureau of Elections. “However, the web page is far from satisfactory and creates questions and quandaries I have neither the time nor the responsibility to conquer.”

He said he plans to send yet another letter to the Bureau of Elections after being told he’s not following state law, saying officials have “to do more than just tell me I’m wrong, they’ve got to tell me how I’m wrong, because I can read the law just like anybody else.”

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