Michigan Denies Free Speech to Public Officials

On December 28th at 10:52PM, a few minutes before the New Year holiday recess, without public notice or hearings, the Michigan legislature, on a straight party line vote passed a law prohibiting any public official from using “Public funds or resources for a communication” about a local ballot question within 60 days of the election.

The muzzling of the public sector does not extend to the private sector. Corporations and large political donors can still spend unlimited sums telling their side of the story. Indeed, adding insult to injury the same law allows campaigns to wait until after the elections to report their financial contributions.

So when Michigan’s citizens make up their minds how to vote on key ballot initiatives regarding issues like fracking or school bonding or municipal broadband their public officials will not be able to communicate with them.






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David Morris

David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and currently ILSR's distinguished fellow. His five non-fiction books range from an analysis of Chilean development to the future of electric power to the transformation of cities and neighborhoods.  For 14 years he was a regular columnist for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. His essays on public policy have appeared in the New York TimesWall Street Journal, Washington PostSalonAlternetCommon Dreams, and the Huffington Post.