Former congressman Bart Stupak speaks on integrity in politics

Perry Fish/Staff Photographer Former U.S. Representative Bart Stupak talks with Midland resident CJ Palmieri after a question and answer session Monday evening in Anspach 161. Stupak spoke as part of the Philip A. Hart and William G. Milliken Endowed Speaker Series: for integrity in Politics.

“I believe we have become a government by the corporations, for the corporations and of corporations,” said former U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak.

Monday night in Anspach Hall room 161 lecture hall Stupak, who represented Michigan's first district from 1993 to 2011, gave an address about integrity in politics.

He said politicians make decisions based on how it would affect their donors.

“I believe the huge influx of money within our political system is jeopardizing and compromising leadership at all levels of our government,” Stupak said.

Stupak said politicians are raising millions of dollars for campaigning from corporations.

“Legislators seem more intent in finding more ways to raise money than finding solutions to our problems,” Stupak said.

He said the average amount raised to conduct a campaign for a house senate seat is $3.4 million.

Stupak said he is still concerned about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited, non-disclosed campaign contributions from corporations, unions and individuals.

“I believe the decision, if not changed, will destroy our democracy,” Stupak said. “Without campaign finance reform many talented individuals would be discouraged from running for office.”

Stupak said he questions the leadership of current politicians.

“I often wonder who are today’s leaders, who will inspire public service, what about tomorrow's leaders, who will inspire them and lay the foundation for their leadership?” Stupak said.

Stupak’s visit is sponsored by the Hart-Milliken Endowed Speaker Series for Integrity in Politics, and he spent time in his speech talking about the former Michigan politicians. Philip Hart was a U.S. Senator and William Miliken governor of Michigan.

“We need the likes of Phil Hart and Bill Milliken to come forward and restore our faith in our leaders,” Stupak said. “We need public servants with honesty, integrity, faith and courage.”

Grand Haven freshman Ashlee Shelley said she agreed with Stupak on many issues and complimented him as a leader.

“I really liked how involved he was in congress,” Shelley said. “He is more for the people than the money.”

However, not everyone in the audience agreed with Stupak.

“I didn’t agree with him on the health care reform,” Ann Arbor freshman Catherine Bernard said. “However, I agree that it is important we have leaders who care about the people, not the money.”

Stupak said CMU is one institution teaching future politicians to have integrity.

“Here at Central Michigan University your dedication to restoring integrity to politics keeps me optimistic about our future,” Stupak said.