Names cut from online list of Michigan House jobs, salaries

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
New Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield R-Levering, speaks to the media after the opening ceremonies.

Lansing — An online list of salaries for Michigan House of Representatives members and employees has been changed by the new House speaker, who chose to post the list without the names of members and employees.

Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, removed the names as a “stylistic” change, but they are still available by request from the House Business Office, said Gideon D’Assandro, a spokesman for Chatfield.

“The website just provides more of a quick reference for folks to save time,” D’Assandro said. “The job titles and the amount of money the House is spending on those positions is really the most important information.”

Under Republican former Speaker Tom Leonard, the names of the House employees and members were listed beside their positions and salaries, D’Assandro said.

The Senate provides no such list online, but does list office budget allotments on its website, said Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake. Similar to House policy, people can request additional financial information from the Senate Business Office, she said.

“Similar requests have been made to and fulfilled by the business office in the past,” McCann said.

Chatfield, who has expressed interest in passing an expansion of the Freedom of Information Act that would remove exemptions for the Governor’s Office and Legislature, is “a big proponent of transparency,” D’Assandro said. Though the House is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, the House will respond to any financial records request it receives, he said.

“All the information is still available,” D’Assandro said. “All that information is still provided. The House has always been open to financial records requests.”

Citing personnel privacy considerations, D'Assandro declined to say whether the change was made at the behest of members or employees. 

Leonard said he received complaints from some employees about the list during his tenure but believed it to be important for transparency.

“Michigan taxpayers work hard for their money,” Leonard said in a statement. “As House speaker, I wanted to ensure that we were accountable and transparent with every one of their hard-earned tax dollars.”

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