‘This is clearly unconstitutional’ -- Michigan Rep. known for misinformation introduces bill that targets fact checkers

Bill introduced despite libel and defamation laws already existing

State Rep. Matthew Maddock introduced the “Fact Checker Registration Act,” which would target those responsible for keeping false claims in check. Legal experts said it would undermine the Constitution.
State Rep. Matthew Maddock introduced the “Fact Checker Registration Act,” which would target those responsible for keeping false claims in check. Legal experts said it would undermine the Constitution.

LANSING, Mich. – State Rep. Matthew Maddock is no stranger to conspiracy theories and lies about both the election and pandemic.

He introduced the “Fact Checker Registration Act,” which would target those responsible for keeping false claims in check. Legal experts said it would undermine the Constitution.

The bill would require journalists and others who fact check to register with the Secretary of State, show proof of a million dollar fidelity bond and be subject to fines of up to $1,000 for being unregistered.

Maddock posted about the bill on Facebook several times before filing it this week. In one post, he encouraged followers to block fact checkers and accused them of “body checking conservatives” and asking who would like to “hunt down” journalists.

In another post, Maddock questioned if fact checkers were “artificial intelligence” and asking “where do they live?”

In a phone interview Thursday, Maddock stood by his bill, despite the criticism.

“There’s a lot of sloppy, sloppy fact checkers out there ruining people’s lives and businesses, so we’re just going to hold them accountable now,”

“I just thought this was a nonstarter. It’s clearly unconstitutional,” said Nancy A. Costello, director of the First Amendment Clinic at Michigan State University College of Law. “You’re basically saying you have to pay something in order to speak. Before you can speak, you have to pay money. The government can’t do something like that.”

The fight over facts and truth is in full swing. Maddock has been one of the loudest voices pushing lies about the 2020 U.S. General Election. He signed onto a Texas lawsuit to disenfranchise millions of Michigan votes. He and his wife -- who is now the Co-chair of the Michigan GOP -- called themselves alternate electors, tried to overturn the election and helped charter buses to the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol Building that left five people dead.

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As of Thursday, Maddock continued to say said the election was stolen.



About the Author:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.