Pleasant Ridge passes anti-corruption resolution

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 19, 2017

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PLEASANT RIDGE — At the urging of a grass-roots campaign, Pleasant Ridge’s City Commission passed an anti-corruption resolution that sets its sights on money in politics.

The resolution was brought to the attention of the commission by a local chapter of Represent.Us, which works to pass anti-corruption resolutions to “stop political bribery, end secret money and fix our broken elections,” according to the group’s website.

The commission unanimously passed the resolution at the June 13 meeting.

“This philosophy is that corruption is a scourge on government, and basically we’re working at a grass-roots level to build a groundswell of momentum to bring change at a local, state and national level,” Alex Lenko, a resident and representative of Represent.Us, said at a commission meeting. “Represent.Us is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and, I mean, it’s one of those topics that affects everybody all over.”

The resolution states that it establishes the position of the city that new anti-corruption laws for “politicians, lobbyists and outside groups such as super PACs are necessary to protect and promote First Amendment free speech rights of all citizens, regardless of wealth, and to restore ordinary U.S. citizens as the most important stakeholders in government instead of major donors.”

Some of the resolution reads, “Limits on contributions to political candidates are justified by the need to reduce corruption and the appearance of corruption,”  “contributions to candidates, and political spending on their behalf, from lobbyists and super PACs present a special risk of corruption,” and that “full transparency of all political money is necessary for the growth of an educated and informed electorate.”

The resolution ends with it stating that it’s “the position of Pleasant Ridge, county of Oakland, state of Michigan, that Congress must pass new anti-corruption laws that include legislation to prohibit politicians from taking campaign money from industries they regulate; put limits on unregulated Super PACs and other groups; increase transparency for campaign funding; stop elected representatives and senior staff from negotiating jobs while in office and bar them from all lobbying activity for five years once they leave; and strengthen federal agencies and House and Senate ethics committees to enforce the rules against politicians and special interests that break campaign finance law.”

While discussing the resolution, Lenko wanted to make clear that the resolution wasn’t in response or to infer that the City Commission took part in corruption.

“It’s not specifically directed at (the Pleasant Ridge City Commission),” he said. “We’re not accusing this commission of corruption, but as it goes up the chain, there’s more and more opportunity for corruption, and part of it is just asking the communities for support.”

Mayor Kurt Metzger said he is impressed with the group and its platform, as well as the volunteer nature of the organization and how everyone involved is stepping up to work on it.

“I, for one, certainly support the message and support the resolution,” he said. “The message behind this is very important.”