Secretary of State Ruth Johnson recognizes Muskegon County Clerk for improving access to campaign records

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- Legal News Photos by Diana L. Coleman

 

By Diana L. Coleman
Legal News


Nancy A. Waters, Muskegon County Clerk, was recently recognized at the Muskegon County Commissioners meeting for her efforts in promoting transparency and accountability in elections and campaign records.

Barbara VanderVeen, Secretary Johnson’s West Michigan liaison from the Secretary of State’s office, presented Waters with a plaque in recognition of her diligence in creating a searchable, online database of campaign finance records dating back to 2007. This database allows members of the public to see how much money elected officials in the county collected and spent while running for office. It also states who donated to their campaigns.

VanderVeen quoted Johnson as saying, “We applaud her efforts and the efforts of other clerks across the state to provide easy, convenient access to public records.”

Prior to the new system, implemented in March by Waters, anyone who wanted to search campaign finance records had to go, in person, to the Muskegon County Clerk’s office to search records and pay for copies. Today, online users can access records and print copies for free.

Johnson implemented a similar system while serving as Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds, a position she held prior to her election as secretary of state in November 2010.

“This is a priority for me — transparency and openness in government are crucial to democracy,” Johnson said. “I’m grateful to Ms. Waters and her staff for implementing this system, which allows users and the media to see who is making donations to local, school and county political candidates.”

The system was designed by Consulting Engineering Associates, a Michigan company.

Computer users can access the campaign finance records at http://muskegon.mi.campaignfinance.us  or through a link on the Muskegon County clerk’s website, www.co.muskegon.mi.us/clerk.  Users can search by candidate or committee name, by office or from a list of local jurisdictions.

Waters was also recognized by Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, its Pastor Christopher Murry, and its congregation. This plaque of recognition was presented by Muskegon County Commissioner Rillastine Wilkins.

The plaque reads “Your implementation of a system to promote openness and transparency in the election process is merely another testimony of your commitment to serve the people of Muskegon County in a positive manner.”

The online campaign finance database is just another example of updates that have been made during Waters’ tenure as Muskegon County Clerk. She continues to work on ways the county residents can access information easily and quickly from home, business, or handheld devices.