Thursday, May 14, marks six months since the House Committee on Ethics announced an investigation into my opponent, Bill Huizenga, for personal use of campaign funds. There is much fact-finding for the committee to do, and we don't yet know the outcome of their investigation.


No one can predict whether or not the House Committee on Ethics will find Bill Huizenga’s campaign guilty of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign funds, but what I do know is this:


First, integrity matters, especially in days like these. We need leaders who do as they say and say as they do. A good and effective government — like any organization — must be led by leaders who act with integrity, even when it's inconvenient.


Secondly, you deserve a representative who understands how hard many of us are working just to get by. Someone who knows the importance of keeping a budget and counting every dime because they worked hard for it, and because there isn’t much to spare. And someone who will fight for a political system that’s less centered on big money and more focused on people.


When you donate to my campaign, you know where the money is going — and it isn’t my pocket. It’s spent on making sure that we run a campaign fueled by the West Michigan values of integrity, hard work and transparency. The goal at the end, when all the votes are counted, is that it’s your voice represented in Congress. I can confidently say that Bill Huizenga’s spending habits are out of touch with West Michigan values.


Having reviewed the exhibits and evidence myself, I honestly can’t imagine spending as lavishly on Disney vacations and expensive dinners as he does, and I can’t imagine that you would either. While Bill likes to talk about fiscal conservatism, his documented use of campaign funds to afford a lifestyle out of reach for regular West Michiganders is a betrayal of our trust. Such hypocrisy must be called out.


It is a violation of campaign finance laws to use money from wealthy donors and big corporations for personal enrichment. We must call out this corrupting practice wherever it is found on both sides of the aisle. It is not only a personal failing of Rep. Huizenga at work here; there are systemic issues with campaign finance and the role of money in politics. I know there are no easy ways to fix this, but, if elected, I am committed to it.


Once elected, my three priorities to take the power of big money out of politics are overturning Citizens United, implementing a small-dollar matching system, and strengthening transparency and disclosure laws.


We need a political process that puts voters, not wealthy donors, at the center, and one that focuses on individuals not the needs of corporate money and interests. I have pledged to not accept a dime of corporate PAC money this campaign. Over the course of his time in Congress, Rep. Huizenga has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporate PACs.


It has been six months since they announced the investigation, and it is just under six months to the election. Want your voice heard in Washington? Join our effort to restore West Michigan values and integrity to Congress.


To read the information from the House Ethics Committee, please visit bit.ly/2A4HEty.


— Bryan Berghoef is a candidate for Michigan’s Second Congressional District.