LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – New bills from Republicans in Lansing would create new requirements for professional fact-checkers in Michigan.
The legislation is called the Fact Checker Registration Act. It would specifically apply to members of the “International Fact Check Network,” referring to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network.
Under the proposed act, IFCN who work in Michigan would be required to register with the Michigan Secretary of State. The sponsor of the legislation, State Rep. Matt Maddock, told his followers on Facebook that the purpose of the bills is to make the identities of fact-checkers public.
In addition, fact-checkers would be required to present proof of a fidelity bond worth at least $1,000,000. This money would be used to pay fines whenever an “affected party” demonstrates in district court that the fact-checker has violated state laws.
In such a case, the court would be required to award the affected party triple damages, costs, and reasonable attorney fees.
Both bills also clarify that such civil action could be filed in any county in the state, regardless of whether either party lives or works.
In a Facebook post, Maddock says fact-checkers are “only body-checking conservatives.” He told his followers that tens of thousands of fact-checkers are spying on them, and encouraged people to “hunt the ones down watching you right now” by blocking terms related to fact-checking in their Facebook privacy settings.
State House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski slammed the bill as an attack on the First Amendment and an attempt to prolong unsupported claims that voter fraud was responsible for Joe Biden winning the 2020 election. She told the Detroit Free Press the sponsors are “trying to intimidate and harass journalists and others who work to promote the truth, keep our citizens informed, and hold our elected officials accountable.”