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In New Disclosures, Republicans Say They Want to Make Birth Control A Crime, Deny Equal Pay for Women is Even a Problem
Sep. 29th 2014
Democrats Respond to Snyder, Christie Visit to Detroit
Sep. 26th 2014
Dems Call for Investigation into Phony Republican Nonprofit
Sep. 25th 2014
First Lady Michelle Obama to Campaign for Michigan Democrats
Sep. 25th 2014
Michigan Democrats Call for IRS Investigation Into Terri Lynn Land Using Her Charity as Extension of Campaign
Sep. 24th 2014
Terri Lynn Land’s Intolerant Family Charity Outsourced from China
Sep. 22nd 2014
New Website Takes Aim At Michigan Republican Policies That Hurt Families, Women, Retirees
Sep. 22nd 2014
Volunteer Spotlight: Dorothy is Dialing for Democrats
Sep. 21st 2014
Michigan Muslim Democratic Caucus Condemns Terri Lynn Land for Promoting Intolerance
Sep. 18th 2014
Fox Guarding Hen House at MSHDA
Sep. 18th 2014
Snyder Retirement Tax Architect’s Pension Questioned
Sep. 15th 2014
Latest Richard Baird Scandal: MercedesGate
Sep. 12th 2014
Disclosure, Not Threats Needed from Snyder
Sep. 9th 2014
Democrats File Complaint Against Snyder Campaign for Failing to Itemize Over $2 Million in Television Ad Expenses
Sep. 8th 2014
Terri Lynn Land Refuses to Answer Whether She’s Breaking Campaign Finance Laws With Campaign Trucks
Sep. 4th 2014
Michigan Democrats Announce Statewide Online Application Process for Absentee Ballots
Sep. 4th 2014
MDP Chair: Email Shows Attempt By Snyder’s Right Hand Man to Silence, Bully Senate Democratic Leader Whitmer
Sep. 2nd 2014
VIDEO: Will Congressman Benishek Continue Ducking His Tax Lien During Open Office Hours?
Aug. 28th 2014
Terri Lynn Land Has Refused to Take Positions on 23 of 34 Questions From Michigan Calling
Aug. 22nd 2014
Dems: Snyder Should Fire Top Advisor in Wake of Stunning Reports
Aug. 22nd 2014

In New Disclosures, Republicans Say They Want to Make Birth Control A Crime, Deny Equal Pay for Women is Even a Problem
Sep. 29th 2014

GOP War on Women expands beyond rape insurance law

LANSING - Republican lawmakers are committed to ratcheting up a hard-right extremist political agenda aimed at women that includes banning common forms of birth control, and outright denials that equal pay for women is a problem according to stunningly frank and shockingly revealing voice recordings taken at political events held by GOP state legislative candidates.  

The recordings, obtained by the Michigan Democratic Party, appear to reflect the views of a large, core group of GOP lawmakers, including two incumbent State Senators—Mike Green and Patrick Colbeck —who are heard voicing strong support for so-called “personhood” legislation for Michigan that was soundly rejected by Mississippi voters in 2011.

In one recording, Sen. Colbeck responds to a question about whether he’d support legislation that mirrored the Mississippi personhood proposal, by saying, “oh yeah… I would love anything we can do in that vein to get going.” Sen. Green, in a separate recorded conversation with a citizen, voices similar support for the controversial proposal, which would define life as beginning at the moment of fertilization and would make it a crime for women to take widely-used forms of birth control.  

Meanwhile, Green is also heard dismissing pay inequality for women as a “misnomer” and state Rep. Pat Somerville brands as “a terrible idea” pay equity legislation, insisting that “when you compare (pay) side by side they (women) actually get more than the men.”  Not to be outdone, State House candidate Jason Sheppard said equal pay legislation “creates huge problems” and would actually discriminate against men. 

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer pointed out that at least 27 Republican lawmakers supported Mississippi-style personhood legislation in recent years, including Republican Leader Randy Richardville and Speaker Jase Bolger. Whitmer said controversial Republican “rape insurance” legislation passed earlier this year that undermined women’s reproductive health is just the beginning of what Republicans have in mind.   

"When you actually hear what these Republican men are saying in their own words at town halls, tea party events and coffee hours you can’t help but believe that rape insurance is just the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come," said Whitmer. "This isn’t just about a few outliers saying dumb things that aren’t true.  This is an agenda that threatens every working family in Michigan."

Green, Colbeck and Somerville are all seeking another term and if re-elected would likely be poised for leadership positions within their Republican caucuses.   In the recordings, Somerville is heard suggesting that life begins at the moment a sperm is united with an egg and expresses optimism that Michigan might be able to accomplish what Mississippi voters rejected: a ban on birth control.

"I believe life begins at conception and the bottom line is this ain’t a very popular area to have the belief but I’ve had that belief since taken (sic) office," said Somerville, "…and I’m hopeful that we’re moving the ball in the right direction."  Rep. Howrylak says: "morally that’s where I am, legally that is where should be."

The voice recordings, which have been posted online and made available to the public, are important because they reveal the unscripted, unvarnished views of Republican legislative leaders and their radical agenda, said Michigan Democratic Party  Chair Lon Johnson.

"These are Republican leaders in their own words," said Johnson. "They want to deny women equal pay, they want to make birth control a crime and when they aren’t within earshot of a reporter they are making it clear this is what they have in mind for Michigan. Now Michigan families can see for themselves and decide whether they want Michigan to become more extreme than Mississippi."

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Republicans in Their Own Words

Banning Birth Control, Equal Pay and Rape Insurance:

“Don’t say we don’t understand women.” That statement—made while posing with copies of Glamour magazine—by Republican representatives Pettalia, Victory, and Glardon was widely criticized as emblematic of the GOP’s disconnect with Michigan women. But it is the statements that Republican lawmakers have been making behind closed doors that are truly cause for concern. Here are some recent examples of statements made by GOP officials and candidates at constituent meetings and political events:

• Senator Mike Green on equal pay: “You know equal pay for equal work is a misnomer, ‘cause they’ve proven over and over and over that women and men are pretty close to the same pay. It’s just a fact that many times women will take leaves to have babies—sometimes they’ll leave to raise their kids . . . . So I think sometimes that politically, that’s politically moved to motivate us to feel bad for people who don’t make as much as others.”

• Representative Patrick Somerville called the Fair Pay Act “a terrible idea,” and said “it’s just like they bring up the gender and the inequality in the gender pay and it doesn’t exist.” According to Somerville, “if you take this male with the same experience, education, and number of years of service and did the woman have all the same criteria? Because when you actually compare side-to-side, they actually get more than the men.” When asked about Mississippi’s personhood amendment that would criminalize common forms of birth control, he said “I believe that life begins at…inception.”

• Representative Tom McMillin was asked what he would say to a woman who was raped but had not purchased rape insurance, and he replied that he was “sure that there is people who can help her.”

• Representative Martin Howrylak said of bringing the Mississippi personhood amendment to Michigan: “morally that’s where I am; legally that’s where we should be.”

• Representative Peter Pettalia voiced his opposition to equal pay legislation by saying, “I wouldn’t support that” and later claimed he couldn’t understand why Republicans are painted as anti-women.

• Senator Patrick Colbeck was asked if he supported the Mississippi personhood amendment in Michigan and replied, “yeah, I’m all for it” and “would love anything we could do in that vein to get [it] going.”

• State House Candidate Jason Sheppard said equal pay legislation “creates huge problems” and would actually discriminate against men.

• State House Candidate Holly Hughes was asked if she supported the so-called “rape insurance” bill replying, “I can support that; I’m pro-life.” 

Democrats Respond to Snyder, Christie Visit to Detroit
Sep. 26th 2014

DETROIT - Today Michigan Democrats released the following statement in response to Republican Govs. Rick Snyder and Chris Christie visiting Detroit:

"It shouldn't be surprising that Snyder is campaigning with the ethically challenged Chris Christie, since the Snyder Administration is awash in scandal," said Garrett Arwa, Michigan Democratic Party Executive Director. "From an Aramark employee under investigation for trying to arrange a prisoner's murder, to disgraced Scott Woosley's spending spree on the public dime, to Snyder's cousin's furniture contract, it's clear Rick Snyder's administration is only interested in doing what's best for their family and political friends. Michigan needs leaders who will work to build a state that works for everyone."

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NOTE: Photos of protestors outside Snyder & Christie's private events at Urban Bean and the Detroit Athletic Club are available upon request.

Dems Call for Investigation into Phony Republican Nonprofit
Sep. 25th 2014

LANSING - Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson today called for an investigation into a group called the "Michigan Jobs & Labor Foundation," a supposedly independent nonprofit organization that has recently begun airing ads in support of Republicans running for the Michigan Senate. Several of the organization’s ads contained explicit advocacy messages in support of the candidates, a potential violation of the group’s nonprofit status, and further investigation of the organization revealed that it is likely being run directly out of the offices of the Michigan Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

"The information that’s already been uncovered about this organization has raised serious questions about whether the Michigan Senate Republicans are flagrantly violating Michigan's campaign laws," said Johnson. "There is seemingly no reasonable explanation as to why the phone number for this organization that’s listed on file with the IRS is the same phone number used by the Senate Republicans' campaign committee. I would expect both the state and the IRS to follow up immediately with a thorough investigation into this organization's finances so the people of Michigan can know the truth."

In 2012, the Michigan Jobs & Labor Foundation filed a 990 form with the IRS listing 517-371-2006 as the organization's telephone number. That phone number is the same one publicly listed for the Michigan Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

The Jobs & Labor Foundation has since pulled the questionable ads from broadcast as well as their YouTube page. Johnson stated that he would be filing a formal complaint with Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office as well as the IRS.

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First Lady Michelle Obama to Campaign for Michigan Democrats
Sep. 25th 2014

LANSING - The Michigan Democratic Party today is proud to announce that the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, will be campaigning in Michigan for Gary Peters for U.S. Senate and Mark Schauer for Governor.

"We are honored to have the First Lady come to Michigan and highlight how the future of our middle class is at stake here this November," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Mark and Gary have proven track records of fighting for good jobs - from standing up to save the auto industry to calling for a higher minimum wage - and they are the only candidates Michigan middle class families can trust. The First Lady has been a tremendous advocate for our middle class families and veterans, and we look forward to having her in Michigan."

More details regarding the First Lady’s visit will be forthcoming.

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Michigan Democrats Call for IRS Investigation Into Terri Lynn Land Using Her Charity as Extension of Campaign
Sep. 24th 2014

LANSING – The Michigan Democratic Party today called for an IRS investigation into Republican Terri Lynn Land using her family charity, World Mission, as an extension of her campaign. Democrats held a press conference outside the World Mission store in Lansing, where news reports show the charity trying to recruit supporters with Land’s campaign yard signs. As a tax-exempt organization, the IRS prohibits World Mission from advocating for candidates. MDP also sent the complaint to the Michigan Treasury, per an IRS suggestion.

Land refuses to answer serious concerns from independent experts about her charity. Her unwillingness to tell Michiganders the truth and hide in a bunker is nothing new:

  • Land is potentially self-funding $3 million illegally, but why won’t she release her self-funding transactions? 
  • Land pays 2.2 percent in taxes despite being one of the wealthiest candidates, but admitted she files separately from her husband for political reasons. Why won’t she release her husband’s taxes? 
  • Land is hiding her business experience working for her family’s business, Land & Company. What is her true business experience?
  • Land receives special perks from Land & Co. like a company car and cell phone, but is she paying income tax on the benefits?
  • Land is potentially breaking the law by renting two campaign trucks from her brother in law below fair market value. Why won’t Land say what she pays for rent or what she thinks fair market value is for the trucks?
  • Land admitted she was in contact with Super PACs – a violation of federal law – but why won’t she say what they discussed?
  • Land’s campaign lawyer, Charlie Spies, started a Super PAC to secretly funnel millions and launch negative attacks. If Land says she isn’t involved with the Super PAC, why won’t she support real-time disclosure?
  • And now, Land is using her charity as an extension of her campaign, but why won’t she discuss World Mission or even say whether she’s donated to the family’s charity?

"Michiganders are fed up with Republican Terri Lynn Land continuing to potentially break the law to further her political ambition as she refuses to answer serious questions from independent experts. Now, independent experts are raising concerns that Land is using her charity, World Mission, as an extension of her campaign which violates IRS law," said Kevin McAlister, Michigan Democratic Party Senior Communications Advisor. "Michiganders deserve the truth from Ms. Land - on her charity, her potentially illegal self-funding, and her business experience - but she refuses to answer straightforward questions, so MDP is calling for an IRS investigation into Land’s charity. With less than six weeks until Election Day, Ms. Land needs to stop hiding in her bunker and start addressing the controversies swirling around her."

The Huffington Post recently examined World Mission and Land’s close ties to the charity. Then, the Arab American News noted that World Mission promotes intolerance by calling Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists "obstacles" that must be overcome to spread Christianity. 

World Mission is run by Land’s father, husband, and brother in law – all owners of the family’s business, Land & Company. Land & Co. got tax breaks by loaning millions to World Mission, in addition to office space, supplies, and carpeting. MDP has also learned that World Mission outsourced to China the production of talking Bibles in 2003. The group, financed by Land's family, uses the Bibles to reach non-Christians.

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Terri Lynn Land’s Intolerant Family Charity Outsourced from China
Sep. 22nd 2014

Charity Problems Pile Up for Land Who Won’t Put Controversies to Rest

LANSING – Republican Terri Lynn Land refuses to answer questions about her family’s charity, World Mission, as she faces another barrage of independent experts raising serious concerns about her potentially breaking campaign finance laws. Even though the charity is prohibited from advocating for candidates because it’s tax-exempt, Land is skirting the law and recruiting supporters through World Mission with yard signs. The Huffington Post recently examined World Mission and Land’s close ties to the charity. Then, the Arab American News that World Mission promotes intolerance by calling Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists "obstacles" that must be overcome to spread Christianity.

Now, the Michigan Democratic Party has learned that Land’s charity, World Mission, outsourced to China the production of talking Bibles in 2003. The group, financed by Land's family, uses the Bibles to reach non-Christians.

Land refuses to answer basic questions about the group that is run by her father, husband, and brother in law – all owners of the family’s business, Land & Company. Land & Co. got tax breaks by loaning millions to World Mission, in addition to office space, supplies, and carpeting. Land denies ever working at Land & Co, despite listing herself 15 times as an owner of the company on donations she made to her campaign.

"Terri Lynn Land doesn’t think she plays by the same rules as everyone else even as independent experts are raising serious questions about her family’s charity potentially breaking the law to illegally support her campaign. Now, it comes out that Land’s charity outsourced from China while getting tax breaks,” said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. “Add Land’s intolerant charity to the list of things she refuses to tell Michiganders the truth about – potentially self-funding $3 million illegally, her business experience with Land & Company, and her 2.2 percent tax rate as a multi-millionaire."

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BACKGROUND:
World Mission Received 10,000 Copies Of An Audio Bible That Was Manufactured In China. “Christian missionaries from Michigan have teamed up with others in California to develop a talking Bible they hope will win over illiterate people around the world. Wyoming-based World Mission recently received the first 10,000 copies of a black and gold device that looks like a traditional Bible. But, once a button is pushed, it plays all 27 hours of the New Testament through a small speaker embedded in the front cover. The ‘Talking Bible’ was manufactured in China.” [Associated Press, 5/15/03]

New Website Takes Aim At Michigan Republican Policies That Hurt Families, Women, Retirees
Sep. 22nd 2014

Michigan Middle Class Alliance Focuses on Accountability

LANSING - Michigan’s middle-class families have a voice and a new way to hold elected officials accountable in an interactive web site, Michigan Middle Class Alliance, that documents how extreme Republican policies are hurting middle class families and schools, even as they are helping people at the top.

The website - MiddleclassMichigan.com - launched today by the Michigan Democratic Party, provides research-based information for Michiganders to learn how the Republicans’ $1 billion in cuts to Michigan schools and a $1.4 billion tax shift are holding the state’s economy back and undermining the future for Michigan’s middle class families.  Moreover, the site explores the scandal-ridden administration of Gov. Rick Snyder and exposes GOP policies that take aim at women’s health and pocketbooks and how they are being carried as banners by extreme ideological Republican lawmakers.

"The Michigan Middle Class Alliance is fighting for good jobs and a fair economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well connected,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "We do that by empowering people with the research, facts and analysis they need to create accountable government and accountable leaders who put Michigan families first."

Michigan Middle Class Alliance also provides ways for people to take action, a TipLine to provide information on government abuse within the Snyder administration, and gives people a fun opportunity to weigh in on questions like, "Why Won’t Rick Snyder Debate?"

Writing for the Michigan Middle Class Alliance site, retired teacher Joann Peterson of Grand Rapids invites other retirees hit hard by the Snyder retiree tax to share their stories.

"As senior citizens we worked hard to earn peace of mind in retirement, and trust our leaders to honor their promises," said Peterson. "But when Rick Snyder and Republican lawmakers raised our property taxes and created a heavy new tax on our retirement they broke that promise and things changed, and not for the better."

The site will keep information current with developments and the changing issue landscape in Michigan.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Dorothy is Dialing for Democrats
Sep. 21st 2014

Dorothy spent last Thursday evening at one of our Detroit offices calling Michigan voters to discuss the important issues at stake in the November election. She was joined by many other women, most of whom spend every Thursday evening on the phones at our weekly Women to Women phonebanks that happen all over the state. 

Dorothy Phonebank

Dorothy is dedicating evenings and weekends to volunteer for Michigan Democrats because the upcoming election is crucial. “Democrats need to be successful. For the elderly, healthcare and Social Security are very important, and we can’t afford to have Rick Snyder in office for another four years if those programs are going to survive.”

“There are a lot of unhappy people in Michigan because we feel like we’ve been deceived by Rick Snyder and the state legislature,” Dorothy said recalling the difficult losses Democrats had in Michigan in 2010.

We are incredibly thankful for Dorothy’s support and commitment to the campaign. Winning isn’t possible without dedicated volunteers like her.

Are you ready to join our team? Click here to volunteer.

Michigan Muslim Democratic Caucus Condemns Terri Lynn Land for Promoting Intolerance
Sep. 18th 2014

LANSING - The Michigan Democratic Party's Muslim Democratic Caucus today condemned Republican Terri Lynn Land and her family’s charity for promoting intolerance. The group financed by Land's family calls Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists "obstacles" that must be overcome to spread Christianity.

The Huffington Post this week examined the Lands' World Mission, which shares the same location as Land's Senate Campaign office. 

Despite clear ties to World Mission, Land has refused to answer key questions on her relationship with the group or how Land has been taking charitable tax breaks while supporting World Mission with millions of dollars.

"It is extremely offensive that Terri Lynn Land would see the Muslim community as inferior and an obstacle to be overcome. How does she expect to represent Michigan's diverse communities in Washington when she and her family are getting tax breaks to promote intolerance around the world?" asked Dr. Shahid Tahir. "Ms. Land's silence about her personal contributions and tax breaks to this divisive charity are unacceptable and wrong. We believe that Michiganders deserve to hear an explanation."

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Fox Guarding Hen House at MSHDA
Sep. 18th 2014

Democrats file complaint with HUD Inspector General following new information showing textbook example of conflict of interest in Snyder Administration 
Blind eye from Governor allowed Woosley to oversee major grant to Woosley’s company

LANSING - Gov. Snyder’s administration allowed disgraced former MSHDA Director Scott Woosley to oversee a state agency while it was providing more than $1 million in government funding to Woosley’s private real estate consulting firm - contrary to Woosley’s public statements to the media. 

This conflict of interest potentially violated federal law and continued for months, all while Woosley and his top staff racked up more than $200,000 in controversial travel expenses. 

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson filed a complaint today with HUD Inspector General David A. Montoya that documents potential conflict of interest and the misuse of federal funds.

Documents obtained by MDP show that at the time that Gov. Snyder named Woosley to the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority in May of 2012, Woosley’s firm Labor-Management Fund Advisors (LMFA) was receiving $1,042,538 in federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant funds. In that role, Woosley would have been responsible for administering those funds, at the time he was hired as executive director of the agency four months later.   

While MSHDA director, Woosley was ultimately responsible for ensuring that LMFA was using the grant money properly and fulfilling its agreements with MSHDA. Federal conflict of interest rules forbid government officials from administering programs in which they have a financial interest. 

MSHDA grant funding continued to flow to Woosley’s company for 10 months, during which time Woosley continued acting as Managing Director of LMFA. Further, as he stated to the Detroit News, he "continued to share in the profits while working for the state.” At the same time, Woosley was living a high-flying lifestyle that led to his resignation in disgrace, in the wake of disclosures of more than $200,000 in travel spending abuses involving Woosley and other MSHDA staff.

"The Snyder Administration either permitted or turned a blind eye to a major conflict of interest involving the head of his housing agency, whose private real estate company was receiving over a million dollars in tax payer money,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Federal conflict of interest laws exist to protect taxpayers from exactly the kind of abuse that is rampant in the Snyder administration. When Snyder and his administration ignore rules designed to protect the public, they betray the public trust. People like Scott Woosley that have major conflicts of interest and stand to benefit financially from their appointment should never be placed in charge of a state agency responsible for stewardship of hundreds of millions of public dollars.”

At the time Snyder appointed Woosley to the Fast Track Land Bank Authority, there was no mention of the fact that Woosley’s firm was receiving substantial federal funding through the State of Michigan, something the Snyder Administration would clearly have known.  When he was later appointed to head MSHDA, Snyder praised Woosley as the “right choice,” and Woosley pledged to distance himself from LMFA. But neither Snyder, Woosley nor any member of MSHDA’s board - including its chair, who is Snyder’s State Treasurer - disclosed the conflict of interest between Woosley’s role as administrator of a government program that was funding a company that Woosley was benefiting from financially. MSHDA has also not disclosed whether it sought or was granted a waiver on the conflict of interest from HUD prior to hiring Woosley, something Democrats demanded to know.

Registration documents filed with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs in 2012, 2013, and 2014 list Woosley as the resident agent for LMFA and bear Woosley’s signature. While serving as MSHDA’s executive director, Woosley was also listed on LMFA’s web site as the company’s managing partner. Government documents show that not only did Woosley retain financial ties to LMFA while the company was receiving funds from MSHDA, but also show that MSHDA employees were actually assisting Woosley in his continued managing partner role with LMFA, keeping a calendar of LMFA appointments for Woosley.

At the time that Woosley’s travel spending was being questioned, he falsely told the Detroit News that his company “has no business with the state or MSHDA” and that LMFA’s work wasn’t focused on Michigan. 

There is little doubt that Snyder’s appointment of Woosley to the Land Bank Authority and Woosley’s subsequent hiring as MSHDA director created a conflict of interest under federal rules.

Woosley Situation a Textbook Example of a Conflict of Interest

A HUD training presentation prepared by HUD’s Region VIII General Counsel, Ellen Dole, offers an example of a classic conflict of interest in HUD-funded programs that parallels the hiring of Woosley by Gov. Snyder.

In the HUD example of a conflict of interest, a theoretical State Housing Finance Corporation (SHFC) hires ABC Associates to administer a Homebuyer Assistance Program funded with HUD HOME funds.  John is the President and partner of ABC Associates and also serves as the Executive Director of SHFC.

“Is this a conflict of interest under Part 85 [of the Code of Federal Regulations]?” the training presentation asks. 

“Answer: Yes. John has a financial interest in the firm hired to administer the program.”

In 2008, the State of Michigan was awarded the HUD grant in the amount of $97,964,416.00 to fund MSHDA’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The grant document lists LMFA as a recipient of $1,042,538.68 in funds under the grant. The document projected that LMFA would receive funds through late 2012. Documents show that LMFA was still drawing down funds under the HUD grant in 2013, with $15,519.00 drawn down between January 1, 2013 and March 31, 2013 - more than ten months after Mr. Woosley was appointed to the Land Bank board by Snyder, and five months after he was appointed as Executive Director of MSHDA.

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NOTE: A research memo with supporting documentation is available upon request.

Snyder Retirement Tax Architect’s Pension Questioned
Sep. 15th 2014

Is Rich Baird dodging the pension tax he helped create?

LANSING - Michigan Democrats today called on Gov. Snyder to direct his senior advisor Richard Baird to release credible proof to determine whether Baird, one of the architects of the governor’s new retiree tax, is failing to pay Michigan taxes on substantial pension income.

Baird, who was forced last month to pay nearly $17,000 in Michigan property taxes following public disclosure that he claimed simultaneous tax breaks on homes in Michigan and Illinois, is potentially eligible for an estimated $170,000 a year pension provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers, where in 2010 he retired as a senior executive after 17 years with the nation’s fifth-largest accounting firm.  

"There are just too many unanswered questions about whether Richard Baird is continuing to play fast and loose on taxes," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Gov. Snyder owes it to the tens of thousands of retirees who are paying the Snyder retiree tax to assure them that his chief advisor and the architect of the pension tax is paying the income taxes to Michigan that he owes and isn’t a hypocrite."

The only way to do that, said Johnson, is for the governor to have Richard Baird publicly disclose whether he has substantial pension income and whether he is paying income taxes on it like every other Michigan retiree like him with a pension.  In an interview last year with Crain’s Detroit Business, Baird described himself as a key champion of the Snyder retiree tax, recounting that he was challenged by Snyder Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore, who was skeptical of the plan and worried that if implemented the pension tax would cost Snyder his re-election in 2014.  

Baird moved to Michigan from Illinois in 2011, bought a home in Bath, started a Michigan business and was appointed by Snyder as Transformation Manager, with a $140,000 salary and an office in the governor’s executive suite. In a 2014 affidavit on file with the Clinton County Clerk, Baird swore an oath as a Republican precinct delegate candidate that he has been a resident of the county for three years. The Snyder administration says Baird lives in Michigan about five days a week. Baird’s Michigan residency subjects any pension income he might have to Michigan’s new pension tax - a law that went into effect in 2012 after being pushed through by Snyder and Republican lawmakers and championed by Baird.  

After it was disclosed in August that Baird wasn’t paying full property taxes in both Michigan and Illinois, Baird relinquished his claim that both his Bath home and Illinois house were was his primary residences, retaining his Illinois homestead exemption.  That raised the possibility that while Baird still met all the requirements for Michigan residency, he might be using his Illinois house to shelter his substantial pension income since unlike Michigan, Illinois does not tax pension income on retirees. 

There are a number of possibilities involving Baird’s pension benefits from Price Waterhouse Cooper, said Johnson, including that he is legally sheltering the money through an annuity or other long-term, deferred-income investment option.   

"It seems clear that Richard Baird was eligible as a top executive with a national accounting firm for a substantial pension when he left in 2010," said Johnson. "We need to know if the man who was quarterbacking the Snyder retiree tax took himself out of the game when it came time to pay his own pension taxes."

The PricewaterhouseCoopers pension plan itself is the subject of a lawsuit by former employees who say the pension plan was illegal because of an investment scheme that benefited senior executives like Baird at the expense of other employees.  

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NOTE: Click here for a research memo providing background information on Rich Baird, his history with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and his move to Michigan.

Latest Richard Baird Scandal: MercedesGate
Sep. 12th 2014

Transformation Manager’s SUV Putting Rick Snyder on the Road To Ruin
A New Fork in Baird Controversy Shows Baird Making Wrong Turn, not Obeying MI Vehicle Registration Law

LANSING - Revelations that Michigan’s most notorious Illinois transplant, Richard Baird, drives a Mercedes SUV that is not registered with the State of Michigan as required by law threatens to put Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration on the road to ruin - unless the governor’s Transformation Manager can find someone else to blame for the problem by Monday.

An article in Tuesday’s Detroit News disclosed that Baird, who lives in Bath Township outside of Lansing, is driving every day to his job at the Romney Building in a Mercedes GL550 with Illinois license plates.  Michigan law requires vehicles driven in the state by Michigan residents to be registered with the state, which means Baird should also be paying the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association fee that all Michiganders pay under the state’s no-fault insurance law. Violation of Michigan’s registration law is a misdemeanor that could carry a penalty of up to 90 days in jail.  Baird signed a sworn statement earlier this year saying he has been a Michigan resident for the past three years.

"Rich Baird could go out and find someone else to take responsibility for his actions, but a simpler way out of this mess would be for him to obey the law by registering with the state where he lives and that is paying him a $140,000-a-year salary,” said Garrett Arwa, Michigan Democratic Party Executive Director. "Baird owes it to the governor not to let MercedesGate drive his longtime friend’s administration further into a political ditch, although it would make for a pretty good buddy movie if there was a chase scene. Not playing by the same rules as everyone else is part of a pattern and practice with Baird and the Snyder administration.”

Baird recently had to fork over $17,000 in property taxes he owed Michigan but hadn’t paid to Bath Township. Emails obtained by MIRS show Baird pressured the Bath Township assessor into taking the blame for Baird’s unpaid taxes, even though as a Michigan homeowner Baird received multiple documents over the past three years that would tell him he was receiving a property tax exemption on his home in Michigan while also claiming his Illinois home as his principal residence.

Rich Baird has been at the center of a litany of Gov. Snyder’s scandals including the secretive NERD fund, the Governor’s cousin’s $41 million furniture contract, EAA Chancellor John Covington, 90% raises at Treasury and imposing a new retirement tax on seniors.

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Disclosure, Not Threats Needed from Snyder
Sep. 9th 2014

Michigan Dems Respond To Latest Richard Baird Eruption

LANSING - Michigan Democrats today criticized a second threat by Gov. Rick Snyder’s chief aide, Richard Baird, who was recently compelled to write a $17,000 check to cover Michigan property taxes he didn’t pay.

"Today Snyder's top aide Richard Baird is once again issuing legal threats, this time expanding them to include the news media as well as Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "This blatant and outrageous attempt to silence President Swift and the media for holding him accountable for taking $17,000 in tax deductions he wasn't entitled to is a new level of bullying behavior from the Snyder Administration. Rick Snyder believes the rules that everyone else plays by don’t apply to him or his closest aide, but he is wrong." 

Swift today released a letter she and the news media received demanding a retraction on an opinion column by Swift that criticized Baird and Gov. Snyder. Johnson said Baird’s claim of innocence about having to write a check for nearly $17,000 to cover unpaid property taxes he owed fall flat. 

“Richard Baird keeps changing his story about his taxes and now clings to a ‘computer error’ that allowed him to avoid paying the taxes he owed,” continued Johnson. “For us to believe this most recent story from Baird would mean that a former senior executive at one of the nation’s top accounting firms did not read or comprehend his biannual property tax statements, and did not pay any attention to annual property tax assessment notices.”

Given Baird’s track record involving secret money and other controversies, said Johnson, he shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his latest claims.

Baird has been at the center of almost every controversy involving questionable behavior within the Snyder administration. Richard Baird piloted Rick Snyder’s secret “skunk works” project to voucherize public education. He fought for the 90 percent raises for top Treasury Department officials. He recruited John Covington from one failed education project in Kansas to become chancellor of Snyder’s failed Educational Achievement Authority, while spending tens of thousands on out of state travel and chauffeur prior to resigning. Baird, of course, worked for Snyder’s secretive NERD slush fund. He also lobbied to protect the governor’s cousin’s state furniture contract, which was increased to $41 million even as Baird was helping Gov. Snyder raise taxes on Michigan retirees.

"Instead of allowing Richard Baird to threaten President Swift and the news media, Snyder should direct Baird to release his state and federal income tax forms for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 so we can see what Richard Baird really did with his tax deductions and when he did it,” said Johnson. “Rick Snyder should then fire Richard Baird."

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Democrats File Complaint Against Snyder Campaign for Failing to Itemize Over $2 Million in Television Ad Expenses
Sep. 8th 2014

Latest example of a Governor who feels he plays by a different set of rules

LANSING - Today the Michigan Democratic Party announced the filing of a campaign finance complaint with the Michigan Department of State, seeking an investigation into the Snyder campaign repeatedly failing to itemize expenditures made by independent contractors.

In April, the Snyder campaign was sent a Notice of Error or Omission by the Department of State directing it to amend its 2014 Annual Campaign Statement to itemize 44 expenditures made by independent contractors, including TV advertising by Smart Media Group. In its latest campaign finance complaint filed September 4, Snyder once again failed to properly disclose over $2 million in TV advertising by SMG.

"Again and again, Gov. Snyder has refused to follow the same rules everyone else has to live by," saidGarrett Arwa, Michigan Democratic Party Executive Director. "From raising taxes on Michigan families and seniors to pay for a $1.8 billion corporate tax cut, to handing out 90 percent pay raises at the Department of Treasury to doubling his cousin's furniture contract, Republican Gov. Snyder has showed he's only interested in taking care of his friends, family, and political allies, and Michigan families are paying the price. Michigan needs a governor who will build an economy that works for everyone."

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NOTE: A copy of the complaint is available upon request.

Terri Lynn Land Refuses to Answer Whether She’s Breaking Campaign Finance Laws With Campaign Trucks
Sep. 4th 2014

Land is potentially breaking law by accepting illegal contributions from brother-in-law

LANSING – Republican Terri Lynn Land might be accepting illegal contributions from her brother in law by renting her two campaign trucks below fair market value, but she refuses to address the allegations. Land still hasn’t said what she believes fair market value for each truck is and what her rental payments are.

The Michigan Democratic Party yesterday called for a federal investigation into Land’s potentially illegal campaign finances. The latest questions continue a troubling trend of Ms. Land skirting the same types of campaign finance laws she supposedly enforced as Secretary of State. Land refuses to answer serious concerns from independent and Republican experts about her secretive business experience with her family’s company, Land & Company, and potentially illegal campaign finances.

"Terri Lynn Land continues to refuse to answer serious allegations that she’s breaking the law with her secretive campaign finances," said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. "This is the latest in a pattern of Land trying to avoid accountability by ducking reporters and refusing to meet with Michiganders. The question is what is Ms. Land hiding by refusing to come clean about renting her campaign trucks from her brother in law? It’s clear that the only way Michiganders will get the truth they deserve is when Ms. Land agrees to debates.”

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Read what people are saying about Land’s potentially illegal campaign trucks:

MIRS: MDP Files Complaint Over Land's Campaign Trucks. “But Democrats want to see an explanation for how the Land campaign came up with the fair market value of the trucks. In Kentucky, the Democratic Senate candidate there, Alison Lundergan Grimes has faced similar criticism over her campaign bus. But the Grimes campaign has released specific figures to try to show that its rate for the bus is at the fair market value. At least as early this evening, the Land campaign hadn't released specific figures on how it arrived at its rate for the truck. But the campaign also hasn't ruled out such a release.” [MIRS, 9/3/14]

AP: Dems Question Land’s Trucks. “The Michigan Democratic Party asked the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday to investigate whether her campaign broke the law by renting two pickup trucks from her brother-in-law Roger Lucas for below-market rates, since he has already donated the maximum $5,200 to her campaign. The International Extreme trucks are worth around $100,000 apiece, according to the complaint, which questions how Land could pay, on average, $269 a month per truck since July 2013 when leasing a smaller pickup would cost at least $750 a month, according to the party's estimates. The campaign began paying $1,000 a month for truck rental in January…Land's campaign said it began using a second truck only recently and will disclose it on the next quarterly campaign-finance report. Democrats demanded specifics on the cost of renting the trucks for fair-market value. [AP, 9/3/14]

Washington Examiner: Michigan Democrats file FEC complaint over truck. “Michigan Democrats filed a complaint Wednesday urging the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land ran afoul of campaign finance rules by renting two big-rig pick-up trucks from her brother-in-law for use on the stump. The complaint alleges that the Republican's campaign "did not pay fair market value for transportation services and thus received in-kind contributions in excess of the legally permitted limit" from her brother-in-law, Roger Lucas. Because Lucas donated the federal maximum of $5,200 to Land's campaign, any additional in-kind contributions would be illegal…This is not the first FEC complaint the Michigan Democratic Party has filed against Land this election cycle. In January, Democrats charged that Land had coordinated with super PACs after she said in a speech that her ‘campaign has talked to a lot of these folks.’” [Washington Examiner, 9/4/14]

Gongwer: Dems File Complaint On Land's Trucks. “The Michigan Democratic Party filed a complaint Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission asking it to investigate whether Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Land is getting an excessive campaign contribution from her brother-in-law from the two large trucks he is renting to her campaign. Ms. Land has made the Ford CXT's a showpiece of her campaign and driven them around the state. Starting in January, her campaign began paying $1,000 a month to her brother-in-law, Roger Lucas. The complaint notes that Mr. Lucas already has contributed the maximum $5,200 to Ms. Land's campaign, so if he is giving her a break on the rental, that would be an excessive contribution. Garrett Arwa, executive director of the Michigan Democratic Party, asked if the complaint was "small potatoes," said in fact it is part of a pattern of Ms. Land failing to disclose her finances. ‘Taken in the grand scheme of things, we don't think this is small potatoes,’ he said.” [Gongwer, 9/3/14]

Michigan Democrats Announce Statewide Online Application Process for Absentee Ballots
Sep. 4th 2014

Historic project will promote absentee ballot access for more Michiganders

LANSING - Today Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson was joined by Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Democratic Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard to announce that Democrats are launching a new statewide online tool that will allow voters to apply for absentee ballots in communities all over Michigan. The site can be found at MIAbsentee.com.

“With many voters having to be away from their communities on Election Day due to work, childcare and other responsibilities, more and more voters are using absentee voting as a way of casting their ballot - as shown by the fact that more than 27 percent of votes cast in Michigan's 2012 election were absentee ballots,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. “We couldn’t be happier to be making this program available for voters all over Michigan.”

"I'm thrilled to join this announcement, because we should be promoting common sense, secure ways for more people to have access to the democratic process in our state,” said Godfrey Dillard, civil rights attorney and Democratic candidate for Michigan Secretary of State. “As Michigan’s Secretary of State, I will work tirelessly to protect the fundamental right to vote, restore transparency, and promote accessibility for all. Increasing access to the ballot and empowering more Michiganders to vote should be job #1 for elections officials in our state - not more partisan Republican politics aimed at keeping Michigan citizens from the polls.” 

"There is a clear contrast in the fundamental priorities of the Democratic and Republican parties,” saidDebbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee Chair. “While Republicans in Michigan attempt to implement unnecessary voting restrictions, Democrats like those here in Michigan will continue working to remove these voting barriers to ensure that every eligible citizen can cast their ballot."

Right now, it is common practice for clerks all over Michigan to receive absentee ballot requests through secure options such as mail, fax, and email. Like these methods, this new online tool allows the voter to send the application directly and securely to the clerk. 

Since 2002, statewide absentee ballot adoption as a percentage of ballots cast has increased from 16.5 percent to more than 27 percent.

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MDP Chair: Email Shows Attempt By Snyder’s Right Hand Man to Silence, Bully Senate Democratic Leader Whitmer
Sep. 2nd 2014

LANSING - The below statement can be attributed to Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair.

Today we are releasing an Aug. 28 email from Gov. Snyder’s chief aide, Richard Baird, who threatens Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer with a lawsuit while complaining about her recent criticisms of scandals in the Snyder administration on the public affairs television program Off The Record.  

Baird’s threat is nothing but a blatant and outrageous attempt by the Snyder administration to bully Leader Whitmer into silence about the pattern of cronyism and questionable activities by top Snyder officials, including Richard Baird who is Gov. Rick Snyder’s closest advisor. Leader Whitmer not only has the right but the responsibility to hold Gov. Snyder accountable for his actions and those of his most senior advisors. By using state resources to threaten one of Michigan’s top elected officials, Richard Baird once again shows that he and other top advisors to Gov. Snyder believe they are not subject to the same standards of conduct and behavior as everyone else. They believe they play by a different set of rules than the rest of us. Whether it’s not paying taxes you owe, using public funds to support a high-flying lifestyle, giving 90 percent raises to your former campaign staff or a $41 million state furniture contract to your cousin, Gov. Snyder believes people like him are entitled to play by their own set of rules.  Richard Baird apparently believes that he can use official State of Michigan communications to convey personal threats to elected officials.  

Instead of constantly changing his story about why he failed to pay property taxes he owed in Michigan, Mr. Baird should stop blaming others and issuing outrageous and inappropriate threats, and instead come clean and publicly disclose his 2011, 2012 and 2013 federal and state income tax returns along with all property tax notices he received since he purchased his home in Bath, Michigan in 2011. Mr. Baird, a former senior executive with the national accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, claims he benefited by mistake in not paying all the Michigan property taxes he owed until he was compelled by public disclosure to write a check for nearly $17,000, for Michigan property taxes he owed for the past three years. Gov. Snyder should direct Richard Baird to release his federal and state income tax returns and property tax notices, and then fire him.

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NOTE: Baird's threatening email can be viewed and downloaded here.

VIDEO: Will Congressman Benishek Continue Ducking His Tax Lien During Open Office Hours?
Aug. 28th 2014

LANSING - In a new video, Congressman Dan Benishek – who is worth more than $1 million – refused to answer questions about why a $8,937.71 tax lien was filed against his own business. Watch the video here.

"Congressman Benishek is worth millions, but he can’t come clean about why he thought he could avoid paying his own business taxes," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "The only thing more outrageous than Congressman Benishek’s vote to cut taxes for millionaires like himself is that he thought he could duck accountability when it came to his own taxes."

According to public records, Congressman Benishek is worth between $1 and $3 million.

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BACKGROUND:

Congressman Bensihek and his Wife Own Assets Worth More than $3 Million Dollars. According Congressman Benishek’s personal financial disclosure, he and his wife have assets worth between $1,166,069 and $3,341,000.  [Personal Financial Disclosure, filed 5/14/14]

Congressman Benishek Owed Nearly $9,000 in Taxes. In 2014 MIRS reported: “A land management company affiliated with U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls) and his wife, Judy Benishek, has a nearly $9,000 tax lien on it from the state of California, according to the California Franchise Tax Board. The $8,967 owed for Wild River Land Management and Marketing is more than double the $3,769 lien the Benisheks had on the same business in August 2012.” [MIRS, 7/26/14]

  • Headline: Benishek, Wife's Business' Tax Lien Now At $9K [MIRS, 7/26/14]

2013: Congressman Benishek Refused to Respond to Why a Tax Lien was Filed Against his Company. According to the Detroit Free Press, “A business associated with U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, is the subject of a tax lien in California, but the congressman has so far declined to describe in detail what caused it to be filed… Benishek’s office said the congressman has received no income in California. It did not respond to a request for more information about the facts behind the dispute.” [Detroit Free Press, 7/12/13]

Congressman Benishek Once Hid Business’s Earnings to Lower his Child Support Payments. In 2014 MIRS reported: “Benishek's has owned the Wild River Land Company since at least 1992, according to state records. The holdings within that company were made into an issue 20 years ago during a child support hearing when a Dickinson County court found Benishek should have claimed what he made through the company when he reported his income.” [MIRS, 7/26/14]

  • Headline: Benishek hid income to lower child support [Michigan Messenger, 9/27/10]

Republican Candidate Arcand Criticized Benishek for Not Paying his Taxes. In 2014, Republican candidate Alan Arcand criticized Congressman Benishek for not paying his taxes. [Arcand for Congress, 8/4/14]

Terri Lynn Land Has Refused to Take Positions on 23 of 34 Questions From Michigan Calling
Aug. 22nd 2014

Peters takes questions from Michiganders on hour-long Michigan Public Radio Show

LANSING - Former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land doesn’t have a position on 23 of 34 questions covering 21 topics posed to U.S. Senate Candidate Gary Peters today on Michigan Public Radio with Rick Pluta. Land hides from Michiganders by refusing to hold a single public campaign event and refuses to answer serious concerns from independent experts about her secretive business experience and potentially illegal campaign finances.

Land has tentatively agreed to appear on MPR on October 3, when Michiganders will only have 32 days before the election. Land should agree to five town-hall style debates, including the three debate invitations both candidates have already received, so Michiganders have a chance to hear from both candidates.

"Terri Lynn Land refuses to meet with Michiganders or answer serious questions raised by independent experts about her secretive business experience and potentially illegal campaign finances," said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. "Michiganders have no way of knowing Ms. Land’s stance on issues facing the state and country, but it’s clear that she’ll tell her special interest allies bankrolling her campaign the truth on her anti-middle class agenda. Land should agree to five town-hall style debates so Michiganders finally have a chance to ask questions and hear from her directly."

Here are Land’s lack of positions on 21 questions:

1. DEFENSE: How will you differ from Senator Levin on the National Defense Authorization Act and congressional authorization of indefinite detention of American citizens?

  • Land has no answer.

2. FOREIGN POLICY: There’s the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict, there’s ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the rebellion in Eastern Ukraine, the political and military transition in Afghanistan, China – when you look at all of those, as a U.S. Senator, where would you set your priorities in terms of U.S. focus?

  • Land has no answer.

3. IRAQ: The President has authorized air strikes to protect American civilians there and not to mention the religious minorities. What role should the U.S. play in moving Iraq forward?

  • Land has no answer.

4. Is there a moral obligation on the part of the United States to prevent the massacre of civilians in Iraq?

  • Land has no answer.

5. What if an air campaign alone is not sufficient to the task? At what point do you, as a United States Senator, vote to authorize actually putting troops back in, putting boots on the ground?

  • Land has no answer.

6. ISRAEL: What can the United States do to reassert itself as a player in the peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel?

  • Land has no answer.

7. What’s one thing that the United States could do today to engage or reengage in that particular [Israel Palestine peace] process?

  • Land has no answer.

8. MILITARIZATION OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS: Let’s talk a little bit about what’s been described as the militarization of police departments across the country that’s it’s become common for departments for departments to get, to be able to purchase surplus military assault vehicles, some major league weapons. Is it appropriate for the federal government to selling this kind of high-powered military equipment to any kind local government that’s willing to write a check?

  • Land has no answer.

9. Should mandatory training be an element of any of those sorts of equipment sales?

  • Land has no answer.

10.  GUN VIOLENCE: What [is your] intention in in taking some leadership in bringing gun sense to America?

  • Land has no answer.

11. FILIBUSTER: Is the filibuster rule abused? 

  • Land has no answer.

12. IMMIGRATION: What does a secure border look like to you?

  • Land has no answer.

13. BORDER CRISIS: How do you view the issue of the tens of thousands of child immigrants who are mostly coming here from Honduras or El Salvador, Guatemala, and we know that some of them are coming into Michigan. How do you view that specific question, these child migrants?

  • Land has no answer.

14. Do you see this more as an immigration issue or is this more of a refugee situation?

  • Land has no answer.

15. ENERGY: You would agree that we are too reliant on the Middle East for our energy needs. Republicans have been very critical of Democrats for being critical of policies that make us more reliant on Middle East oil, but not being supportive enough of more immediate domestic sourcing of energy for example, natural gas drilling. Where are you on that?

  • Land has no answer.

16. What are you going to do as a Congressman, and when you get to the Senate, to make sure that we get the adequate amount of funds here to start working on and improve our infrastructure?

  • Land has no answer.

17. GREAT LAKES: I live in Port Huron where the Great Lakes are very important to us economically and what will you do to protect the Great Lakes in the future?

  • Land has no answer.

18. So what needs to be done to protect the Great Lakes? Give us your thumbnail, Great Lakes protection agenda?

  • Land has no answer.

19. HEMP: Will this Senator inspire the energy direction of our nation? What about hemp? The Constitution is written on hemp, we make paper and quotes out of hemp, why is hemp illegal, why isn't biofuel being made out of hemp? 

  • Land has no answer.

20. MARIJUANA: Federal criminalization or decriminalization of marijuana: Should that happen?

  • Land has no answer.

21. PARTISANSHIP: So many people now are sick and tired of the partisan games and gridlock n Congress, it seems like no one can find common ground anymore. I'd actually like to know when you've worked with Republicans and on what, and how you were able to find this common ground?

  • Land has no answer.

22. Give us an instance where you've broken with the majority of the Democratic Caucus in order to accomplish something?

  • Land has no answer for where she would break with the Republican Party.

23. WHAT'S AT STAKE: I'd like you to tell people what you think is at stake should you win or lose in November?

  • Land has no answer.

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Dems: Snyder Should Fire Top Advisor in Wake of Stunning Reports
Aug. 22nd 2014

Voter registration, tax issues again raise serious questions about Snyder's judgment

LANSING - Today Michigan Democrats called on Gov. Snyder to fire his right hand man Rich Baird in the wake of a startling report that while serving in the Administration, Baird has been simultaneously claiming principal residence tax exemptions for thousands of dollars on homes he owned in Michigan and Illinois.

"Snyder's right hand man Rich Baird should pay the taxes he owes the people of Michigan, immediately disclose his tax return so we can see what else he owes our state, and return to Illinois where he belongs for good," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Baird should be fired, without delay. Scandal and controversy has surrounded the Snyder-Baird relationship from the beginning. Everyone remembers the NERD Fund, Snyder's cousin's $41 million furniture contract, lavish travel reimbursements, and 90% pay hikes for Snyder's Wall Street investment executives at Treasury. The Snyder administration thinks playing by the rules is something other people do. It's time to bring these scandals to an end."

Baird was claiming this "accidental" double primary tax break even as he helped Gov. Snyder raise property taxes by forcing through the 2011 elimination of the homestead tax exemption for thousands of Michigan families and seniors. 

Baird was a longtime executive at the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm, who could be in line to receive a pension from his former employer. The state of Illinois does not tax pension income. 

According to a 2013 profile in Crain's Detroit Business, Baird was a forceful advocate for Rick Snyder's retirement tax, which increased taxes on seniors living on a fixed income by thousands of dollars a year.

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BACKGROUND:

Baird claims homestead exemptions in both Michigan and Illinois. According to the Cook County Assessor’s Office, Baird has claimed the state’s homestead exemption on his Illinois home since 2012. [Cook County Assessor

The Bath Charter Township’s online property records show that Baird has also been claiming the PRE on his Michigan home. [Bath Charter Township]

When Baird applied for the PRE in Michigan, he was required to disclose any homestead exemptions he took in other states. In order to receive the PRE on his home, a Michigan taxpayer must complete an affidavit and submit it to local government officials. The affidavit form asks "Do you or your spouse claim a similar exemption, credit or deduction on property located in another state?" The taxpayer must sign under the statement "I certify under penalty of perjury the information contained on this document is true and correct to the best of my knowledge." [Michigan PRE Affidavit]

Laws in both Michigan and Illinois prohibit a taxpayer from claiming homestead exemptions on multiple properties. Illinois law allows taxpayers to claim a homestead exemption only on their “principal dwelling place.” [35 ILCS 200/15-175(f)

Michigan law explicitly bars homeowners from claiming the state’s PRE if they are claiming a “substantially similar” tax exemption in a different state. [MCL 211.7cc(3)(a), Michigan Treasury, Guidelines for the Michigan Principal Residence Exemption Program

A 2012 Michigan Court of Appeals opinion definitively ruled that Illinois’s homestead exemption is “substantially similar” to Michigan’s PRE. [Levenfeld v. County of Berrien]

Records show that Baird is registered to vote in both Michigan and Illinois. According to Michigan records, Baird registered at his Bath, MI address more than a year ago. [Michigan Secretary of State] But Illinois records still show Baird registered to vote at his Palatine, IL address. [Illinois State Board of Elections]

Baird was a key advocate for Snyder's retirement tax. [Baird] said Muchmore said he had worked with plenty of legislators and governors over the years who had looked at the pension tax and they had all backed away from it. Baird went back at him and said the numbers didn't work, and the problem needed to be fixed, because the senior citizen population was growing fast and younger people were leaving the state in high numbers. Everyone else in the room was silent, including Snyder, who just sat back and watched the animated conversation between the two men who seemed to have forgotten anyone else was even in the room. "We were really going at it back and forth, back and forth," Baird said. [Crain's Detroit Business, 5/19/13]

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