$41 million state furniture contract comes at a price for students, seniors
New chairs from Gov’s cousin for lawmakers, Administration but nothing for seniors, schools
LANSING - Democrats, students and senior citizens today took to the road, criss-crossing Michigan cities with a giant, inflatable chair and a strong message for Rick Snyder and the Republicans: Stop wasting millions of dollars on fancy lounges, cushy chairs and other unneeded state office furniture and instead fund schools and repeal the Snyder retiree tax.
At issue is a $41 million state contract benefitting Rick Snyder’s cousin’s furniture business amid new disclosures that the state is spending tens of thousands of dollars buy new furniture for legislators and to outfit lounges for a top Snyder administrator and other administration officials. The inflatable chair, symbolizing the $41 million spent on state office furniture, will appear today in Lansing and Southfield.
“The governor’s cousin’s $41 million contract, new chairs for Legislators and upgrading lounges for top Snyder officials should not be a priority over Michigan’s seniors and students,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. “We don’t think so and today we are taking that message to citizens across Michigan.”
New documents obtained by the Michigan Democratic Party reveal that following the Snyder administration’s decision to increase the governor’s cousin’s contract from $19 million to $41 million, $43,000 of that was spent to outfit the offices of senior Snyder administration officials with pricy new lounge chairs, including Dan Wyant, director of the Department of Environmental Quality.
Democrats were joined today by seniors and parents with students. The seniors called for a repeal of the $343 million tax hike on retirees that Rick Snyder and Republican lawmakers enacted, as part of a total $1.4 billion tax shift on to retirees and middle class families.
“Republican tax hikes threaten what retirees in Michigan have worked their entire lives to create,” said JoAnne Peterson of Grand Rapids. “The fact that this tax hike is being used to pay for new cushy office furniture for the Snyder administration and legislators, all so the governor’s cousin can make more money is making seniors across the state even more angry and upset.”
Parents and their children turned out today to show their displeasure with more than $1 billion in Republican cuts to Michigan schools.
“My children will be going back to school with fewer textbooks and larger classrooms,” said Martha Black a mother of two daughters from Auburn Hills. “My kids get handed photocopies because they have started rationing textbooks. How many books could be bought for $41 million? Yet instead of that money going to educate our kids, it’s going to the Governor’s cousin.”
Today’s events and new disclosures follow revelations in March that Snyder Administration officials and the secretive NERD fund intervened in the midst of the state’s 2011 budget crisis to protect the Governor’s cousin and a major financial contributor from millions of dollars in losses from proposed cuts impacting their furniture contract with the state. That $19 million contract for Snyder cousin, George Snyder, subsequently grew to $41 million as classroom funding was cut and taxes raised on seniors.
Note: Click here to download a copy of records showing tens of thousands of public funds spent on upgrading executive lounges and director lounges for the Department of Environmental Quality.
MEMO: Michigan Democratic Party: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Scandals
“Legislators Considering $110K Worth Of New Chairs” [WLNS, 6/26/14]
Massive Snyder Chair Spotlights Administration Scandals, Big Costs For Michigan Families— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 20th 2014
Less than 80 Days to Election, Land Has Not Held Public Event
LANSING - Former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land went on a three-day bus tour through Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, but didn’t hold a single public campaign event or announce any stops in advance. The Michigan Democratic Party today released a video showing a person getting kicked out of multiple events during Land’s trip because event organizers stated that they were private and not open to the public.
While Land was on her non-public trip last week, the Michigan Democratic Party held a Week of Action to highlight Land’s anti-middle class agenda. The week elicited additional questions that Land refuses to answer, such as:
1. How many employees does she have at Green Light Management?
2. Why then did Land previously say that she employed hundreds?
3. How many vacation homes has she been hiding from the public?
4. Why is Land not paying taxes on special perks from her family's business?
"Terri Lynn Land still hasn’t held a single public campaign event where Michiganders – not her hand-picked guests – can ask her questions about her business experience and potentially illegal self-funding," said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. "Land still refuses to tell Michiganders the truth about her work for her family’s business, Land & Co., and defend her anti-middle class agenda. With less than 80 days until the election, Land is spending millions in negative attacks hoping to avoid accountability but Michiganders won’t let that happen. Land should agree to debates, so voters can hear from both candidates and judge for themselves.”
VIDEO: Terri Lynn Land's Latest "Tour" A Major Bust— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 18th 2014
LANSING – Former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land received a car and cell phone from her family’s business, Land & Company, and didn’t pay taxes on it. Land refuses to answer how long she's used the Land & Co. car, whether she's still driving it, and whether she was receiving the Land & Co. perk as Secretary of State.
Land denies ever working at Land & Co. despite mounting evidence, including listing herself 15 times as “owner” of Land & Co. on campaign donations to herself and Grand Rapids building inspectors listing Land & Co. as the owner of Land’s Southview Apartments when it took more than a year to take care of a cockroach infestation.
Every Sunday, the Michigan Democratic Party will highlight another example of Ms. Land refusing to answer straightforward questions about her candidacy. Since the first day of her campaign, Land has run from reporters and hidden from Michiganders in a bunker. She hasn’t even held a single public campaign event.
“Terri Lynn Land received special perks from Land & Co. like a company car and cell phone but hasn’t paid taxes on any of it,” said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. “Land refuses to say how long she's had a Land & Co. car and whether she used it as Secretary of State. It’s clear that Ms. Land’s close relationship with her family’s business can’t be covered up despite Land’s best efforts to deny ever working at Land & Co. Michiganders deserve the truth about Land’s business experience and campaign finances, but so far, all they’re getting from Land is another silent Sunday.”
SILENT SUNDAY: Terri Lynn Land Didn’t Pay Taxes on Special Perks from Land & Co.— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 17th 2014
LANSING – The Michigan Democratic Party held a Week of Action to highlight former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land’s anti-middle class agenda. She still hasn’t held a public campaign event and refuses to answer serious questions about her business experience with her family’s business, Land & Co., and potentially illegal campaign finances.
Unfortunately, this week only elicited more questions for Terri Lynn Land:
1. How many employees does she have at Green Light Management?
2. Why then did Land previously say that she employed hundreds?
3. How many vacation homes has she been hiding from the public?
4. Why is Land not paying taxes on special perks from her family's business?
“Terri Lynn Land has even more unanswered questions about her business experience with Land & Co. and potentially illegal campaign finances,” said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. “Across the board, Land refuses to give Michiganders the truth about the special perks she gets from Land & Co. and how many vacation homes she has. With only 80 days left until the election, Michiganders won’t allow Ms. Land to blindly ignore serious allegations and spend millions to try and buy this Senate seat.”
Week of Action Elicits More Questions for Terri Lynn Land— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 15th 2014
Byrum urges Land disclose self-funding transactions and business experience
LANSING - Dianne Byrum, a small business owner, today called on former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land to answer questions as to the legality and ethics of Land’s business experience over 20 years and self-financing in her current campaign for U.S. Senate.
Byrum revealed that Land hasn’t disclosed all assets despite filing an update last month that revealed a hidden checking account with millions. Land’s husband, Dan Hibma, is owner of Land & Co. and owns a condominium in Kissimmee, FL that she did not disclose to the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee as required.
As a result of the now weeks of controversy, Byrum urged Land to respond with full transparency and disclosure. Specifically:
1. Byrum called on former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land to explain her business experience and ties to her family’s business, Land & Company. Land has sought to distance herself from Land & Co. but uses Land & Co. as a vendor for most of the property management of her apartment complex, Southview Apartments.
2. Byrum called on Land to immediately release a complete record of all financial transactions from the account or accounts she has been using to fund her campaign due to the legality questions that multiple media reports have uncovered. Land is telling the IRS that her income is separate from her husband and the Senate Ethics Committee that she has joint income and shares a checking account. The Detroit Free Press reported that Land potentially self-funded $3 million illegally.
As a former Secretary of State and top elections official, Land was responsible for enforcing the types of campaign finance laws she’s now accused of breaking. The Michigan Democratic Party is holding a Week of Action on Land’s anti-middle class agenda because she refuses to answer questions and hasn’t held a single public campaign event for Michiganders to meet her.
"Terri Lynn Land is still hiding assets from Michiganders and refuses to give them the full picture about her business experience with Land & Company," said Dianne Byrum. "As a business owner, I know how much time and effort one has to invest into running a successful company. Ms. Land still hasn’t explained her secretive business experience and potentially illegal self-funding. She should immediately release a complete record of self-funding transactions so Michiganders can judge her finances for themselves. It’s the only way Ms. Land can prove that she hasn’t broken the same types of campaign laws she enforced as Secretary of State."
KISSIMMEE, FL CONDOMINIUM BACKGROUND:
Dan Hibma Owned Nine Parcels in Osceola County, Florida. According to an Osceola County property search, Daniel Hibma owned nine parcels within the county.
[Osceola County Property Search, accessed 7/9/14]
Terri Listed Only Eight of these Properties on Her Personal Financial Disclosures. On her personal financial disclosures filed as a candidate for the United States Senate, Terri listed 8 properties that her spouse, Dan Hibma, owned in Kissimmee, Florida. The properties listed were:
2059 Grand Oak Drive
2054 Grand Oak Drive
2055 Grand Oak Drive
2037 Grand Oak Drive
2031 Grand Oak Drive
2009 Grand Oak Drive
1983 Grand Oak Drive
1965 Grand Oak Drive
These properties are described as rental condos. [Terri Lynn Land for Senate Personal Financial Disclosure, filed 8/2/13; Terri Lynn Land for Senate Personal Financial Disclosure, filed 5/15/14; Terri Lynn Land for Senate Personal Financial Disclosure, filed 7/24/14]
Hibma Has Owned 610 Elmhurst Ct., Kissimmee, Florida Since April 2007. According to an Osceola County property search, Hibma purchased 610 Elmhurst Ct., Kissimmee, Florida with a Warranty Deed on April 11, 2007 for $316,000. Hibma has never sold the property. [Osceoloa County Property Search, Parcel # 25-25-29-2535-1350, accessed 8/8/14]
TERRI LYNN LAND’S PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY DOESN’T MANAGE PROPERTY:
Land Claimed She Never Worked at Land & Company. “Land has denied she has ever been involved in her husband’s real estate development business, Land & Co. ‘I’ve never worked for Land & Co.,’ Land said. ‘I’ve never owned the trailer park and never owned any of the businesses.’ Land’s personal business experience has been in a property management company with her son, Swift said.” [Detroit News, 5/25/14]
…And Claimed She Was Not Involved in the Day-to-Day Running of Land & Co. “Yet Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said that she sees no contradiction in Land’s statement on the videotape. Swift also offered a statement about the Grandville site: ‘Terri Lynn Land worked at the family motel and trailer park over different periods until the early 1990s. Terri is not, and has never been, involved in the day-to-day running of Land & Co; nor has she ever had an ownership share in Land & Co. For the past few years, Terri has owned a small-business with her son.’” [Politically Speaking, 5/23/14]
…Instead Land Claimed Her Business Experience Came From Green Light, a Property Management Company She Runs With Her Son. “On the campaign trail, Land routinely refers to herself as a ‘small business owner.’ She owns the Southview Apartments complex in Grand Rapids with her son through Green Light Management and a limited liability corporation and has insisted it’s a separate business from Land & Co.”[Detroit News, 7/8/14]
…But Green Light Management Doesn’t Maintain the Apartments. “Land campaign spokesperson Heather Swift and Land and Company spokesperson John Truscott said Land and Company is a contractor for Green Light. Ms. Swift said in some instances that means some paperwork shows Mr. Hibma's name because Land and Company handled the paperwork in question as a contractor. ‘Terri and her son own Green Light Management which owns the properties and SVC,’ Ms. Swift said. ‘Like many land owners, they hire a vendor to market the available apartments, carry out maintenance, and perform other day-to-day jobs. Because of that, affairs related to maintenance are mailed to the vendor, not the owner. Multiple City departments and websites have public records that show ownership under SVC of GR.’” [Gongwer, 8/8/14]
…It Doesn’t Market the Apartments. “Land campaign spokesperson Heather Swift and Land and Company spokesperson John Truscott said Land and Company is a contractor for Green Light. Ms. Swift said in some instances that means some paperwork shows Mr. Hibma's name because Land and Company handled the paperwork in question as a contractor. ‘Terri and her son own Green Light Management which owns the properties and SVC,’ Ms. Swift said. ‘Like many land owners, they hire a vendor to market the available apartments, carry out maintenance, and perform other day-to-day jobs. Because of that, affairs related to maintenance are mailed to the vendor, not the owner. Multiple City departments and websites have public records that show ownership under SVC of GR.’” [Gongwer, 8/8/14]
…It Doesn’t Show the Units to Prospective Renters. “Land’s company, Green Light Management, contracts out to Land & Co. for basic services: rental agents that show units to prospective renters and execute leases; bookkeeping; and administrative duties, according to Truscott.” [Politically Speaking, 8/7/14]
…It Doesn’t Execute Leases. “Land’s company, Green Light Management, contracts out to Land & Co. for basic services: rental agents that show units to prospective renters and execute leases; bookkeeping; and administrative duties, according to Truscott.” [Politically Speaking, 8/7/14]
…It Doesn’t Perform Administrative Duties. “Land’s company, Green Light Management, contracts out to Land & Co. for basic services: rental agents that show units to prospective renters and execute leases; bookkeeping; and administrative duties, according to Truscott.” [Politically Speaking, 8/7/14]
…It Doesn’t Keep the Books. “John Truscott, who recently signed on as a spokesman for Land & Co., said that Green Light and Land & Co. are two separate entities. Truscott said that Green Light contracts with Land & Co. for basic services, such as billing and bookkeeping.” [Politically Speaking, 8/7/14]
…Or Bill its Tenants. “John Truscott, who recently signed on as a spokesman for Land & Co., said that Green Light and Land & Co. are two separate entities. Truscott said that Green Light contracts with Land & Co. for basic services, such as billing and bookkeeping.” [Politically Speaking, 8/7/14]
Dianne Byrum Reveals Terri Lynn Land Is Still Hiding Assets, Calls for Full Transparency on Finances and Business Experience— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 12th 2014
LANSING - Karen Teegarden, President and CEO of UniteWomen.org, today called on former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land to offer her employees contraception coverage. Land touts her family’s business, Land & Company, as employing hundreds of Michiganders.
Land supports the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision that gives an employer final say over his female employees’ health care decisions but has refused to answer whether she, as a business owner, will discriminate against her own employees.
Land already threw her support behind two proposals to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit contraception coverage, and would end a woman’s right to choose by banning abortions even in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman.
Now, Land refuses to answer questions about whether she will discriminate against her employees and deny them access to contraception.
"Terri Lynn Land’s silence on whether she will offer employees contraception coverage in her company’s health insurance policy indicates a lack of understanding on issues important to women and their families,” said Karen Teegarden. "Making contraception coverage an exception puts a financial burden specifically on women and their families. Voters cannot trust a Senator who favors employers making personal healthcare decisions for their employees. Her stance on the Hobby Lobby decision adds to her anti-women, anti-middle class agenda, putting the special interest allies that bankroll her campaign ahead of the needs of women.”
Land Sides With Private Company’s Right To Discriminate Against Employees. At Terri Lynn Land’s endorsement event with the NFIB, WNEM reporter Kristin Moore asked Land about the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Decision. She responded, “I support the use of contraceptives but I also understand that governments forcing, you know, closely-held businesses to violate their religious beliefs is not good.” [WNEM TV 5, 7/1/14]
Land: “We Were Fortunate Enough To Grow What Started As A Very Small Family Business Into A Successful Michigan Based Company That Provides Jobs For Hundreds Of Michigan Residents.” Reported the AP in August 2013, “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land and her family have assets worth tens of millions of dollars, mostly in western Michigan apartment complexes and Florida condominiums run by her husband, according to a financial disclosure report. ‘We've been fortunate enough to grow what started as a very small family business into a successful Michigan-based company that provides jobs for hundreds of Michigan residents,’ the former Michigan secretary of state said in a statement Monday.” [Associated Press, 8/6/13]
Terri Lynn Land Refuses to Answer Whether She Will Deny Her Employees Contraception Coverage— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 11th 2014
When did Rick Snyder know about Woosley’s unpaid taxes?
Why did Snyder hire someone mired in conflict of interest?
LANSING - Michigan Democrats said today Gov. Snyder must come clean with the public on whether he hired his housing point man, Scott Woosley, knowing the Oakland County CEO had a tax lien on his home for more than $117,000 in state and federal income taxes that he hadn’t paid. Democrats also raised key questions involving conflict of interest in connection with Woosley, who was forced Friday to resign amid a swirling scandal over $200,000 in travel reimbursements that has grown with new disclosures of unpaid taxes.
"Scott Woosley wasn’t paying his own taxes yet was appointed by Rick Snyder to oversee a state program dispensing homes that thousands of Michiganders lost because they couldn’t pay their taxes on time,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. “This is outrageous, hypocritical and demands answers. Did Rick Snyder know about Woosley’s unpaid taxes when the governor appointed him to the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority? Did he know about the unpaid taxes when five months later Woosley was hired to run the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and also oversee the land bank? If Governor Snyder didn’t know about Woosley’s tax problems, why not? How is it that someone who was being pursued by the government for massive unpaid taxes is appointed by the governor to the land bank authority and then is hired to oversee a state agency?”
Woosley was first appointed by Snyder to the Michigan Land Bank Trust Authority in May of 2012. The land bank’s mission included disposing of tax-reverted properties. Then in October of that year Woosley was hired as director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Snyder added the land bank to MSHDA’s agency portfolio.
A Detroit television station, WXYZ, reported Friday that at a week after Woosley was hired at MSHDA a federal tax lien was filed against Woosley’s Rochester home for failing to pay $105,179 in income taxes.The state also filed a tax lien against Woosley for $11,982.89.
The station said Woosley paid off the taxes soon after being hired at MSHDA, raising the possibility that Snyder and MSHDA’s board may have known about the unpaid taxes but hired him anyway. Typically liens on unpaid taxes are levied only after other efforts to collect them fail.
Johnson said the question of Snyder’s knowledge of Woosley’s tax troubles isn’t the only one involving the governor and Woosley, who continued involvement with Birmingham-based Labor-Management Advisors, LLC after he was hired as MSHDA director.
Also at question, said Johnson: Did the governor approve Woosley pulling down a private sector salary or other income from the company he founded while he was collecting a $135,000 salary from MSHDA, getting more than $100,000 in expense reimbursements, using a state-owned vehicle and costing the state $23,000 for the use of a state airplane?
Moreover, said Johnson, will the governor support an independent, impartial audit of his administration given the obvious conflict of interest his appointees and the agencies they run would have in undertaking an investigation of possible wrongdoing that could involve the governor himself.
"The MSHDA scandal and a pattern of cronyism and questionable practices that touch not only the governor but his family all involve the use and misuse of public funds," added Johnson. "Is Rick Snyder willing to allow an outside, impartial examination of his administration?"
"When he ran for governor Rick Snyder promised openness and transparency. But as governor he supported backroom lobbying to helps his cousin’s furniture business with a $41 million state contract, a $1.6 million secret slush fund and taking care of his political friends."
"This continues to highlight the pattern of behavior in the Snyder administration that the rules don't apply to them or their friends. Instead of providing affordable housing for those families in Michigan who need it most, Woosley instead chose to live high on the hog at the taxpayers' expense," said Rep. Tim Greimel (D - Auburn Hills), House Democratic Leader. "This behavior is frankly deplorable and I call on Governor Snyder to immediately conduct a comprehensive audit of other departments to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used properly."
In addition to the Woosley scandal, Democrats pointed to questionable practices by Snyder and his appointees that include:
Scott Woosley is now the third top Snyder official to resign in disgrace amid scandal and controversy, following Andy Dillon and John Covington. Who will be next?
Democrats: Snyder Should Come Clean on Scandal— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 11th 2014
LANSING - The Michigan Democratic Party is launching a Week of Action to highlight former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land’s anti-middle class agenda. Every day this week, the MDP will hold an event on a subset of Land’s anti-middle class agenda, because she refuses to answer questions and hasn’t held a single public campaign event for Michiganders to meet her.
"Terri Lynn Land’s anti-middle class agenda is wrong for Michigan, but she refuses to defend it or travel the state to meet with Michiganders. Michigan Democrats are holding a Week of Action this week so Michiganders can learn the truth about Land’s extreme right-wing agenda that puts her special interest allies first and Michigan last,” said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. “On everything from turning back the clock on women’s rights to opposing a minimum wage increase to $10.10, Ms. Land doesn’t stand up for Michiganders, which is why they don’t trust her to put them ahead of her special interest allies bankrolling her campaign.”
WEEK OF ACTION: Michigan Dems To Highlight Terri Lynn Land’s Anti-Middle Class Agenda— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 11th 2014
LANSING - Today, MDP Chair Lon Johnson blasted the dishonest diversionary tactics of Rick Snyder's administration. After being caught misusing public funds, MSHDA director Scott Woosley claimed he was asking the Treasury Department to audit his expense reimbursements. The truth is, his expense forms were signed by officials at Snyder's Treasury Department, and the state treasurer sits on the MSHDA Authority Board, which oversees MSHDA.
"This handpicked Snyder official's call for a Treasury audit is nothing more than a ruse and a smokescreen," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Officials with Snyder's Treasury Department personally signed off on these absurd expense forms. It's time for Rick Snyder to take responsibility for the pattern within his administration of special treatment for those at the top."
This morning it was disclosed that Scott Woosley and other top officials in Gov. Snyder's Michigan State Housing Development Authority have used more than $200,000 in public funds for travel expenses, including extravagant foreign trips.
These trips included limousines, premium-class airfares, gourmet meals and rooms at the world’s most expensive hotels, virtually all of which was reimbursed from public funds.
MDP Chair: Woosley Calls for Audit a Ruse, Smokescreen— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 8th 2014
Democrats demanding comprehensive, independent investigation after handpicked Snyder official forced to resign
LANSING - Today in the wake of reports that MSHDA director Scott Woosley will be stepping down, Michigan Democrats repeated their call for an independent, impartial investigation of Snyder Administration abuses of the public trust. Woosley is the now the third top Snyder official to resign amid controversy and scandal, showing a widespread pattern and practice in Snyder's state government.
Yesterday the Michigan Democratic Party disclosed documents revealing top MSHDA officials misused over $200,000 in public funds, spending on premium class air travel, state-owned planes, pricy meals and limo rides.
"This is now the third instance of a top Snyder Administration official resigning amid scandal over abusing public funds," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Gov. Snyder has created a culture that turns a blind eye to the misuse of public funds and the public trust. Snyder must be held accountable for these repeated, systematic abuses, and that's why we're demanding a comprehensive, independent audit of departments within the administration."
Woosley’s high-flying lifestyle as a state government official is part of a pattern within the Snyder administration of lavishing favors and special benefits on political friends, family and people at the top.
In addition to the Treasury Department controversies, a $41 million state office furniture contract involving the governor’s cousin, $240,000 in questionable spending at Snyder’s Educational Achievement Authority, and the $1.6 million NERD slush fund have dogged the Snyder administration and raised questions about widespread corruption inside state government.
Woosley Now Third Snyder Administration Official to Step Down Following Scandal— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 8th 2014
Dems call for Snyder to fire Woosley, independent audit of departments
LANSING - Michigan Democrats today called on Gov. Rick Snyder to direct the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to fire its Executive Director Scott Woosley and immediately order an independent, impartial investigation of more than $200,000 in extravagant travel expenses, including premium class airfares, the widespread use of state-owned planes and expensive meals.
Premium travel taken by Woosley and his top staff to the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere - with business and first-class airfares totaling more than $27,000 - appear to violate state policy requiring state officials who travel to use the lowest fares available. Meal reimbursements to Woosley and his staff costing in the hundreds of dollars also appear to exceed state reimbursement guidelines of $22 for dinners and $11 for lunches.
State Treasurer Kevin Clinton, a Snyder appointee, oversees Woosley as Chair of the MSHDA board. Chief Deputy Treasurer, Tom Saxton, personally reviewed and signed off on Woosley’s expense reimbursements.
"The buck stops with the governor and the first place he should start taking responsibility is to make sure Scott Woosley is no longer able to waste public funds on extravagant luxury hotels, state planes and premium travel. He needs to be fired," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair.
In the wake of disclosures involving the latest scandal to hit the Snyder administration, Woosley invited Snyder’s Treasury Department to review his expense reimbursements. But those reimbursements were already reviewed and approved by treasury officials, according to document obtained by the Michigan Democratic Party.
"The fact that Woosley wants the same scandal-ridden Snyder treasury department that previously approved his obscene travel reimbursements to now play the role of fox in reviewing Woosley’s hen house spending might be a joke if we weren’t talking about an extraordinary amount of waste and abuse of public funds," said Johnson.
Johnson also called for Snyder to order an outside, independent audit of MSHDA’s spending as well as actions at the Treasury Department, which oversees MSHDA and was previously involved in questionable spending related to 90% pay raises for top staff, and paying former Treasurer Andy Dillon after Dillon was forced out of his job and was on a Caribbean Cruise.
“Snyder can’t be trusted to be impartial, so only an outside, independent audit will be able to determine just how widespread this scandal goes," said Johnson. "Anything less suggests that the governor may be trying to cover up wrongdoing within his administration. We already know that one of Snyder’s MSHDA board appointees, Scott Wierda, was one of those benefiting from Woosley’s wining and dining at public expense. We need to know if any other MSHDA board members are involved in this as well and the extent of the Treasury Department’s involvement in this scandal."
MSHDA board member Wierda and Woosley ran up a $621.49 tab at Dusty’s Wine Cellar in Okemos where they dined on seafood and desserts, and drank martinis and Manhattans.
Disclosure yesterday of Woosley’s high-flying lifestyle as a state government official is part of a pattern of abuse within the Snyder administration of lavishing favors and special benefits on political friends, family and people at the top. In addition to the Treasury Department controversies, a $41 million state office furniture contract involving the governor’s cousin, $240,000 in questionable spending at Snyder’s Educational Achievement Authority and the $1.6 million NERD slush fund have dogged the Snyder administration and raised questions about widespread corruption inside state government.
As head of MSHDA and the newly created Michigan Community Development Corporation, Woosley is one of Rick Snyder’s top administration officials and responsible for handling more than $3.9 billion in public funds.
Travel expense reimbursements to Woosley and other staff disclosed yesterday totaled more than $200,222 and included premium-class airfare to Istanbul, Riyadh, Dubai, Cairo and Doha, hotel rooms as high as $540 a night and lavish meals, some topping $1,600.
Top Snyder Officials Signed off on Lavish Gourmet Meals, Limos, Luxury Hotels, Travel and More— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 8th 2014
Top Snyder appointee who heads State Housing Agency living the high life
LANSING - Top officials in Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration who oversee a state agency responsible for low-income and public housing have used more than $200,000 in public funds for travel expenses including extravagant foreign trips. The trips include limousines, premium-class airfares, gourmet meals and rooms at the world’s most expensive hotels, virtually all of which was reimbursed from public funds.
Scott Woosley, director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), along with other top staff at the agency, have been reimbursed by the state for $200,222.63 in expenses, including premium-class airfare to the Middle East as well as use of state-owned planes and cars. Woosley also attempted to obtain reimbursement for a $180 massage, fine wine and liquor but has thus far been unsuccessful.
Disclosure of Woosley’s high-flying lifestyle as a state government official is part of a pattern of abuse within Gov. Snyder’s administration of lavishing favors and special benefits on political friends, family and people at the top, said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair.
“Premium-class trips to the Middle East and stretch limousines are symptoms of a relentless problem at the top of state government that Rick Snyder’s created,” said Johnson. “It’s an environment where all manner of bad behavior by top state officials and political appointees is treated by the boss as business-as-usual because unfortunately that’s what it has become in Michigan.
“Maybe in Rick Snyder’s world some CEOs run their companies like fiefdoms where you can dole out favors and spend lavishly on perks. But as governor, when you engage in cronyism and empower others to waste resources you are abusing the public trust.”
"The high-flying lifestyle being maintained by top state officials is part of a pattern of abuse within Gov. Snyder’s administration of lavishing favors and special benefits on political friends, family and people at the top," said Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills), House Democratic Leader. "Premium-class trips to the Middle East, massages and limousines are symptoms of a chronic problem at the top of state government - a problem created by an environment where all manner of bad behavior by top state officials and political appointees is treated by the boss as business-as-usual, because unfortunately, that’s what it has become in Michigan under the Snyder administration."
State records obtained by the MDP show that Woosley’s air travel alone cost more than an estimated $62,000 over the past two years in expense reimbursements and the use of state-owned aircraft.
Johnson pointed to Woosley’s travels as part of a pattern of favoritism, cronyism and questionable practices by Snyder and his appointees that include:
As head of MSHDA and the newly created Michigan Community Development Corporation, Woosley is one of Rick Snyder’s top administration officials and responsible for handling more than $3.9 billion in public funds. Snyder recently appointed Woosley to oversee a new state immigration program targeting wealthy foreign residents for recruitment under the U.S. State Department’s EB-5 program. Woosley’s lavish trips to the Middle East were ostensibly taken as part of that new program, although to date there has been no documentation of any wealthy immigrants recruited to start businesses in Michigan.
A board appointed by Snyder oversees MSHDA and is chaired by state Treasurer Kevin Clinton, a member of Snyder’s cabinet. Deb Muchmore, the wife of Snyder Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore, also sits on the MSHDA board as do two other Snyder cabinet members, Transportation Director Kirk Steudle and Maura Corrigan, Michigan Human Services director. Another Snyder crony and campaign contributor, Scott Wierda, is also on the MSHDA board and took part in some of the extravagant spending.
Revelations of Woosley’s spending came to light through documents obtained by the Michigan Democratic Party under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA requests were followed by an anonymous letter written by a MSHDA whistleblower raising concerns about questionable activities by top officials within MSHDA. The letter, turned over to the MDP, outlined many allegations that were subsequently documented by the MDP. Records obtained by the MDP and now accessible online back up the whistleblower’s allegations in startling detail, including:
The anonymous MSHDA whistleblower said in the letter that career workers at the agency were offended by “the rogue behavior” of Woosley and other top staff that "gives state employees a black eye and makes all of our jobs more difficult."
Johnson praised the MSHDA whistleblower for coming forward and outlining what turns out to be a widespread abuse of public funds and he encouraged others to do so.
"MSHDA’s rank-and-file career workers believe deeply in helping people and the agency’s mission to provide support for low-income and public housing,” continued Johnson. "This kind of outrageous behavior encouraged by the Snyder Administration clearly offends them, as we can see by the whistleblower letter. We encourage these career civil servants to continue coming forward with information.”
NOTE: A copy of a memo detailing the documentation for these claims is available upon request.
High-Flying Snyder Officials Spending Lavishly on Premium Travel, Gourmet Meals and Limos— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 7th 2014
Takes frivolous, political Republican complaint, but doesn’t investigate Land’s finances and business experience
LANSING - The Michigan Secretary of State hasn’t yet launched an investigation into former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land’s secretive finances and business experience, but did take up the Michigan Republican Party’s frivolous political complaint against Lieutenant Governor candidate Lisa Brown. The complaints were filed three days apart, but only the complaint against Land has independent experts raising serious concerns.
The Michigan Democratic Party filed a complaint calling for an investigation into Land’s experience with her family’s business, Land & Company. Land listed herself as an employee of Land & Co. 15 times on campaign donations to her own Secretary of State campaign. Her husband, Dan Hibma, was campaign treasurer and owner of Land & Co. at the time. Either Land lied when she denied ever working at Land & Co., or is lying about her business experience to the people of Michigan.
"It’s pure politics when the Republican Secretary of State will pick up a frivolous and meritless complaint but won’t investigate one of their own in Terri Lynn Land for potentially lying about her business experience," said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. "As a former Secretary of State, Land enforced campaign finance laws but she still thinks she doesn’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else. The Secretary of State only seems invested in Republican party unity rather than holding all candidates accountable to the law. Michiganders deserve the truth about Terri Lynn Land’s secretive finances and business experience."
Secretary of State Plays Politics With Finance Complaints— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 7th 2014
Republican infighting hits fever pitch through August primaries
DETROIT - This morning Michigan Democrats packed a room in Midtown Detroit for their 2014 Democratic statewide unity breakfast.
Attendees heard from U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman John Dingell, Congressman John Conyers, candidate for Governor Mark Schauer, candidate for U.S. Senate Gary Peters, House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel, Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, candidate for Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Rev. Nathaniel Turner, Rev. Dr. Tellis Chapman, Michigan Democratic Party Vice Chair Nancy Quarles, and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson.
"Michigan Democrats are fired up and ready to win," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "Last month, 6 polls showed the governor's race a dead heat, Terri Land spent weeks refusing to answer questions about the $3 million she potentially illegally funneled to her own campaign, and Republican desperation was on full display when their super secret spy campaign was uncovered. This isn't surprising because up and down the ticket, Republicans have been engaged in a vicious civil war for control of their party."
Last night, there were brutally contested Republican primaries, for races ranging from Congress, where Paul Mitchell, David Trott, and Brian Ellis each contributed millions to their own campaigns against other Republicans, all the way down to the local precinct delegate level, where shadowy dark money outside groups have made endorsements and even sent mailers on behalf of candidates.
Republican state Rep. Joe Haveman offered his thoughts on the Republican civil war to the Detroit News yesterday. "We just eat our own," said Haveman. "You just want to take a shower when these things are done. They're terrible."
"This cycle, Democrats have been working tirelessly to build the most effective grassroots operation this state has ever seen," continued Johnson. "We've been laser focused on opening offices, recruiting volunteers and engaging voters in our campaign to win all over this state."
Since June 1, the Michigan Democratic Party has opened 26 offices, hired 106 campaign staff, recruited over 7,000 volunteers, knocked on 173,018 doors, and made 178,212 phone calls.
Michigan Democrats Fired Up, Ready to Win in 2014— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 6th 2014
DETROIT - Today Detroit civil rights attorney and adjunct Wayne State law professor Godfrey Dillard announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination for Michigan Secretary of State in 2014. In a conference call with press, Dillard outlined his priorities if elected, including campaign finance reform, voting rights reform, and increased accessibility at Secretary of State branch offices. Dillard also noted he is looking forward to working with Democratic leaders to restore a Michigan that works for everyone, not just the wealthy.
"I've talked to families all over this state, and all of them say the same thing: in Michigan, our fundamental right to vote is incredibly valuable, but it's threatened right now," said Dillard. "Michigan is awash in unaccountable, unreported dark money. Our state needs a Secretary of State who will take on the entrenched special interests in Lansing - the same special interests who are corrupting Michigan's political system with dark money every day. I've spent my career taking on special interests and working to empower normal citizens, and I'm looking forward to working alongside Michigan's next governor Mark Schauer and legislative leaders as Secretary of State."
Godfrey Dillard is currently a civil rights attorney in Detroit and an adjunct professor at Wayne State Law School. He has served his country in the U.S. Foreign Service, and has served his community through participating in several challenging civil rights cases. He is looking forward to restoring competency, courage, and Michigan values to Lansing as our Secretary of State.
Civil Rights Attorney Dillard to Run for Democratic Nomination for Secretary of State— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Aug. 1st 2014
Land Hidden Account Doesn't Cover Self-Funding, Still Hiding 2013 Disclosures
LANSING – After failing to meet basic ethics and disclosure requirements, former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land Land still cannot explain where her $3 million in self-funding is coming from, and didn't even file an update to her 2013 disclosure form. Land is still hiding her business experience and Land & Company profits that she’s funneling to her campaign.
The Detroit Free Press revealed today that, “Nearly two weeks after first contacting her campaign on the subject, officials still haven’t told the Free Press what other assets — presumably those controlled solely by [her husband, Daniel] Hibma — were converted to cash and placed into the account for her use.”
What is worse is the Free Press said, “Election law experts contacted previously by the Free Press indicated that by not revealing the source of the funds, Land — who for eight years as Michigan’s secretary of state enforced election laws — was raising doubts about her transparency. In Washington, Republican lawyer Jan Baran said if there was no previous history of a candidate’s spouse moving funds into such a joint account before a campaign, it could potentially constitute a violation of the contribution limit.”
Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson today called for a Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigation into whether Land broke the law by self-funding $3 million to her campaign without having $3 million in her own assets. He also called for a State of Michigan investigation into her business experience and whether she lied about working for Land & Co. by listing herself as “owner” of Land & Co. at least 15 times on donations she made to her 2002 Secretary of State campaign. Hibma was campaign treasurer and owner of Land & Co. at the time.
The Free Press notes that “What’s far less clear, however, is why so much of Land and Hibma’s wealth is controlled solely by him — she even filed separate tax returns the last two years — and she has distanced herself, on those returns and her financial disclosures, from Land & Co.” Land is hiding her business experience working for Land & Co., that's given her the resources to become one of the top self-funders in the country.
"After failing to meet basic disclosure law and hiding her millions, Terri Lynn Land still can’t explain where she’s getting the $3 million she's already spent on her campaign. She still reports only having $1.5 million in her personal accounts," said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. "As Michigan’s former Secretary of State and top elections official, Land should know better, but she seems to think that that the rules don't apply to her. Michiganders want answers about Land’s finances and business experience, but all they’re getting from Terri Lynn Land is more secrets and deception.”
Terri Lynn Land’s $1.5 Million in Personal Assets Don’t Cover $3 Million in Self-Funding— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Jul. 24th 2014
Either Land Lied about Her Business Experience or She Lied to the State of Michigan about Her Role in Land & Company
Land Also Potentially Funneled $3 Million in Land & Company Profits to Campaign Illegally
LANSING - Independent news reports have raised questions as to the legality and ethics of Terri Lynn Land’s business experience over 20 years and self-financing in her current campaign for U.S. Senate. The Detroit News revealed that Ms. Land listed herself as owner of her family’s business, Land & Company, on 15 campaign donations she made to her Secretary of State campaign. The Detroit Free Press reported that Land is potentially funneling $3 million from her husband's Land & Co. profits to her campaign illegally.
Regrettably, Ms. Land has refused to answer questions or rectify this controversy. Despite serving as Michigan’s highest election official, it appears she failed to comply with both state and federal election law. Land has yet to explain why she listed herself as an owner of Land & Co. but denies ever working for the company. At the time, her husband was both campaign treasurer and Land & Co. owner, and would have known whether Land was working at Land & Co.
Today, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson called for state and federal audits of former Republican National Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land’s business experience and self-funding.
Johnson called for two investigations:
Independent experts have raised that Land may have violated both state and federal election law.
The Detroit News reports that Rich Robinson, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network questioned how Land could deny ever working for Land & Co. and blame donations where she’s listed as an employee of Land & Co. Per Robinson, "I would be very surprised if any campaign record keeper would list an occupation that wasn't provided by the donor," Robinson said. Frank Beckmann from 760 WJR said that he couldn't believe Land is denying her business experience at Land & Co., saying, “I have no idea why Terri Lynn Land doesn’t say I worked, I was an executive in my family’s company. I don’t get it. I don't understand why. I think she should. It makes no sense. I don’t understand her whole campaign quite frankly.”
If Land did lie about working for Land & Co., she could face a civil fine of up to $1,000 and reimburse the Secretary of State for all expenses from the audit.
The Detroit Free Press first reported that Land doesn't have enough assets that would give her the ability to self-fund $2.9 million legally. Land could have used her husband's Land & Co. money, but that would break the law because he can only donate $5,200 total. Paul Ryan, senior counsel with the Campaign Legal Center, told the Free Press, "If a noncandidate spouse gives money to a candidate spouse to influence that candidate’s election, it’s subject to contribution limit. This raises a red flag for me. A candidate suddenly coming into possession of several million dollars raises questions for me.” If Land violated campaign finance law, she could face a civil penalty of as much as $5.8 million, which is twice the amount of the excessive contribution of $2.9 million minus the $5,200 legally permissible contribution.
“Since Terri Lynn Land refuses to answer questions about her controversial and potentially illegal Land & Co. finances, the only way for Michiganders to know the truth is through investigations by the State of Michigan and Federal Election Commission,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "As a former top elections official, Ms. Land should know better, but as a candidate to replace Carl Levin, she should be following the basic letter of the law that's required. Sadly, Ms. Land doesn't think the rules apply to her so we are left with no choice than to pursue a full accounting and investigation of her finances at the state and federal level. Every day she continues to hide the truth about her finances and business experience for Land & Co. is another day that Michiganders can't trust her to follow the laws on the books.”
MDP Chair Calls for State & Federal Audits of Terri Lynn Land’s Finances & Business Record— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Jul. 24th 2014
Michigan Democrats today released photo evidence that contrary to Republicans' claims on the record, Republicans were systematically trained to misrepresent their identity and intentions in order to gain entry to Democratic Party events.
CLAIM: MRP spokesman to MLive's Fritz Klug: "It's not like they snuck in and tried to misrepresent themselves."
FACT: That's exactly what Snyder's operatives do. MRP deputy research director John M. Howting, the leader of Gov. Snyder's spy ring, and other Republican staffers and interns attended multiple Democratic events using alter egos and fake names.
"Republican Gov. Snyder should answer for his Party's activities and explain whether he or his campaign is directing party operatives to use fake names and misrepresent themselves in order to spy on his opponents" said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. "There's nothing new about trackers attending public events, but Snyder and Republicans are taking things to extreme levels, wearing secret spy glasses, using fake names, pretending to be reporters, using alter egos and tripping up on their own fancy spyware technology. Now their spokesman is caught in a lie about operatives being systematically trained to misrepresent themselves. Isn't it just time to come clean?"
"I want Gov. Snyder and Republicans to know that Republicans are welcome to attend our events, but there's no need for them to use fake names, misrepresent themselves and wear spy glasses as part of their secret spy program," said Judy Daubenmier, Livingston County Democratic Party Chair. "Rather than sneaking around in the corners, I would give them a place on the agenda where they can explain why Gov. Snyder and Republicans raised taxes on seniors and families and cut education, because the Governor sure hasn't."
FACT CHECK: Contrary to Republican Claims, Yes, Snyder Spies Do Use Fake Names And Are Trained to Do So— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Jul. 24th 2014
Land Grabs Cash from the GOP Poster Child for Denying Mammograms and Preventative Care; Continues Support for Allowing Employers to Make Health Decisions, Refuses to Answer Whether She Will Deny Contraception Coverage
LANSING - Terri Lynn Land is fundraising with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) today reaffirming her support to go even farther than the Hobby Lobby decision. The Blunt amendment would allow employers to deny coverage for mammograms and preventative care in addition to contraception.
Land's D.C. fundraiser today is the latest example of Land's campaign secrecy. Politico reported this week that Land refused to state her position on the Blunt amendment. Land previously tried to hide her support for the Hobby Lobby ruling and "rape insurance" law in Michigan. She still refuses to say whether she will provide contraception coverage to her employees.
Blunt’s amendment is so extreme that former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown recently said his support for it “cost me the election” against now-Senator Warren but he would support it again. The bill ultimately failed.
"Terri Lynn Land has once again turned her back on Michigan women to cash in with Senator Blunt and push an extreme agenda that lets corporations deny coverage for mammograms," said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. "Land already supports letting corporations discriminate against woman by denying them contraception coverage and would outlaw abortion without exception. Now, Land campaigns for cash with Sen. Blunt, a man that wants to turn back the clock on women, but has no time to explain any of her positions, discuss debates, or even hold public campaign events and interact with Michiganders. The truth is she supports expanding an employer’s control over his employees’ health care, which is why Michiganders don’t trust Ms. Land to put them first."
Mizzou not Michigan: Terri Lynn Land Stands With Senator Blunt’s Anti-Women Push— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Jul. 22nd 2014
Land Facing Serious Accusations of Potentially Self-Funding $3 Million Illegally
LANSING - It’s official: Terri Lynn Land is throwing a firesale to get rid of millions in questionable campaign funds. Down in the last ten polls, she’s out with a new attack ad, and hoping she won’t have to answer questions about the $3 million she’s potentially self-funding illegally. Land refuses to answer serious allegations reported in the Detroit Free Press that she either lied on her financial disclosure forms, or is potentially funneling money to her campaign illegally.
Land is one of the top self-funders in the country and is funding one-third of her total campaign. Now, she’s resorting to quickly spending millions so the tainted money isn’t in her campaign coffers. She has loaned herself $2.9 million in questionably legal personal or business funds, which happens to be nearly exactly the amount of money she has spent on television.
The Free Press notes that this is particularly indefensible given Land “for two terms as Michigan’s secretary of state oversaw the enforcement of election laws.” In 2005 she even told the Free Press “Openness and accountability are the foundations of a healthy political process."
"Terri Lynn Land is throwing a firesale to get rid of potentially illegal money and hopes that she won’t have to answer any questions about whether she broke the law," said Kevin McAlister, MDP Senior Communications Advisor. "Land will do anything to avoid answering serious questions about whether she illegally self-funded $3 million from her family business, Land and Company. Michiganders simply don’t trust Land, because instead of holding public campaign events and agreeing to debate, she dumps her questionable cash and hides her business experience that gave her the resources to self-fund in the first place."
Terri Lynn Land’s Cash Firesale Looks To Get Rid of Questioned Campaign Funds— MI Democratic Party (@MichiganDems) Jul. 22nd 2014
It’s time for Michigan to elect leaders who know what makes our state great - our people, our land and our Great Lakes. The Michigan Democratic Party is focused on empowering citizens with the tools they need to join their friends and neighbors in creating an accountable government, and electing leaders that they believe in. Are you in? We’re ready to win, but we can’t do it without your help.