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Public corruption the focus of Mich. AG's new unit

JESSICA M. KARMASEK, LEGAL NEWSLINE

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2011

 

LANSING, Mich. (Legal Newsline) -Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced on Thursday that he has created a new Public Integrity Unit to "ratchet up" the fight against corruption in state and local government.

The unit will also protect tax dollars and restore the public's trust in government, says Schuette, in his first year as attorney general.

"Corruption scandals have damaged the public's trust in government and left Michigan with a national reputation as a place where businesses wonder who they have to pay off before creating a job," Schuette said in a statement.

"Today, we are turning up the heat on corruption in Michigan. There will be no more Kwames."

Schuette, in his announcement, noted that current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has done a "solid job" restoring public trust. However, the ongoing fallout from the Detroit corruption scandals and other issues have damaged Michigan's reputation as a place to create jobs, he said.

As residents struggle to maintain employment in Michigan's poor economy, it is "vital" to ensure their hard-earned tax dollars are not being lost to corruption, Schuette said.

Acknowledging the state's tough budget situation, the attorney general said the unit is being created without additional spending, but by reallocating existing resources in the Attorney General's Office.

The Public Integrity Unit, he explained, will allow the office to put an increased focus on public corruption cases currently handled by its Criminal Division -- a priority Schuette identified after taking office last month.

Schuette said he expects the unit to work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement to uncover and prosecute crimes at all levels of state and local government.

 

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