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Redistricting commission asks for state audit

Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
Sarah Lehr
/
WKAR News
Members of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission hear feedback from the public during a public hearing at the Lansing Center on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021

The commission responsible for drawing new congressional and legislative district lines has invited a formal audit of its finances and operations.

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted to send a request to the Michigan Auditor General, which is an independent entity that watchdogs state agencies for the Legislature.

The vote by the commission was unanimous.

Commissioner Rebecca Szetela says the organization should be ready to answer questions about how it’s handled its finances and constitutional responsibilities under the voter-approved amendment. The commission has exceeded its budget by more than a million dollars.

“So I really think that’s kind of the point is to sort of help us defend ourselves in front of the Legislature when we ask for more money,” she said during Thursday’s meeting.

Most of that deficit stems from the costs of legal challenges to the commission’s work.

The commission earlier stirred up a controversy when a majority voted to unilaterally give itself a pay raise before it later rescinded the decision.

Commission Executive Director Edward Woods the 3rd recommended the action.

“This is just more of a proactive move saying, hey, come and audit us, check us out with regards to that instead of waiting to see if we’re audited at all,” he said.

A spokesperson said the Auditor General has not yet received the request.

“Should it come to us, we would evaluate the scope and timing of the request along with our resources and make a decision at that point,” said State Relations Officer Kelly Miller in an email to Michigan Public Radio.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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