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Volunteer Spotlight: Dorothy is Dialing for Democrats
Sep. 21st 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
Michigan Democrats Announce Statewide Online Application Process for Absentee Ballots
Sep. 4th 2014
Terri Lynn Land Refuses to Answer Whether She’s Breaking Campaign Finance Laws With Campaign Trucks
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
Dems: Snyder Should Fire Top Advisor in Wake of Stunning Reports
Aug. 22nd 2014
Terri Lynn Land Has Refused to Take Positions on 23 of 34 Questions From Michigan Calling
Aug. 22nd 2014
Massive Snyder Chair Spotlights Administration Scandals, Big Costs For Michigan Families
Aug. 20th 2014
VIDEO: Terri Lynn Land's Latest "Tour" A Major Bust
Aug. 18th 2014
SILENT SUNDAY: Terri Lynn Land Didn’t Pay Taxes on Special Perks from Land & Co.
Aug. 17th 2014
Week of Action Elicits More Questions for Terri Lynn Land
Aug. 15th 2014
Dianne Byrum Reveals Terri Lynn Land Is Still Hiding Assets, Calls for Full Transparency on Finances and Business Experience
Aug. 12th 2014
Terri Lynn Land Refuses to Answer Whether She Will Deny Her Employees Contraception Coverage
Aug. 11th 2014
Democrats: Snyder Should Come Clean on Scandal
Aug. 11th 2014
WEEK OF ACTION: Michigan Dems To Highlight Terri Lynn Land’s Anti-Middle Class Agenda
Aug. 11th 2014

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.

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.

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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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]

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]

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]

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.

###

Massive Snyder Chair Spotlights Administration Scandals, Big Costs For Michigan Families
Aug. 20th 2014

$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.

BACKGROUND:

MEMO: Michigan Democratic Party: Gov. Rick Snyder’s Scandals
michigandems.com/snyderscandals

“Legislators Considering $110K Worth Of New Chairs” [WLNS, 6/26/14]

VIDEO: Terri Lynn Land's Latest "Tour" A Major Bust
Aug. 18th 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. 

Click here to watch the video. 

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?

  • Land has less than 50 employees, but how many are in the small business she touts? “Ms. Land's campaign had only said that Green Light Management LLC, the company she directly owns and that her campaign and Land and Company have said is separate from Land and Company, has fewer than 50 employees. That means it is not subject to any of the mandates under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…It has not said whether Green Light offers health insurance to its employees, or if it does, whether that includes contraceptive coverage. Land campaign officials could not be reached late Monday evening for additional comment.” [Gongwer; 8/11/14]

2.  Why then did Land previously say that she employed hundreds? 

  • In August of last year, Land bragged: “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]

3. How many vacation homes has she been hiding from the public?

  • Land revealed a previously undisclosed Florida vacation home...so how many more homes is Land hiding? “The MDP also uncovered that Land didn't list a Kissimmee, Florida condominium in her financial disclosure form with the U.S. Senate. Eight other properties in Florida are listed on the form…However, the Land campaign reported that the condo is a vacation home for her and her husband, Dan Hibma, and is not required to be reported on the disclosure form because it doesn't generate income.” [MIRS; 8/12/14]

4. Why is Land not paying taxes on special perks from her family's business?

  • Land received a Land & Co. car and cell phone but hasn’t paid taxes on the benefits. “A Land & Co. spokesman confirmed to The Detroit News in July that Land had received an email address, car and cellphone through the business. She, too, had done unpaid work for the company. Because Land was never employed, she didn't have to pay taxes, the spokesman said. That's fodder for Democrats, who say one of Land's first campaign commercials touted her small business experience at the site that once held some 170 trailer park units and a motel. Families living there in 2004 had one year to move, with assistance in the form of relocation fees from the company, as developers worked to close the site down. Land's acceptance of company assets without paying taxes calls her employment history into question, [Lon] Johnson said. Questions, he argues, aren't being answered transparently.” [MLive; 8/14/14]

"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.”

###

SILENT SUNDAY: Terri Lynn Land Didn’t Pay Taxes on Special Perks from Land & Co.
Aug. 17th 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.”

###

Week of Action Elicits More Questions for Terri Lynn Land
Aug. 15th 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?

  • Land has less than 50 employees, but how many are in the small business she touts? “Ms. Land's campaign had only said that Green Light Management LLC, the company she directly owns and that her campaign and Land and Company have said is separate from Land and Company, has fewer than 50 employees. That means it is not subject to any of the mandates under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…It has not said whether Green Light offers health insurance to its employees, or if it does, whether that includes contraceptive coverage. Land campaign officials could not be reached late Monday evening for additional comment.” [Gongwer; 8/11/14]

2.  Why then did Land previously say that she employed hundreds? 

  • In August of last year, Land bragged: “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]

3. How many vacation homes has she been hiding from the public?

  • Land revealed a previously undisclosed Florida vacation home...so how many more homes is Land hiding? “The MDP also uncovered that Land didn't list a Kissimmee, Florida condominium in her financial disclosure form with the U.S. Senate. Eight other properties in Florida are listed on the form…However, the Land campaign reported that the condo is a vacation home for her and her husband, Dan Hibma, and is not required to be reported on the disclosure form because it doesn't generate income.” [MIRS; 8/12/14]

4. Why is Land not paying taxes on special perks from her family's business?

  • Land received a Land & Co. car and cell phone but hasn’t paid taxes on the benefits. “A Land & Co. spokesman confirmed to The Detroit News in July that Land had received an email address, car and cellphone through the business. She, too, had done unpaid work for the company. Because Land was never employed, she didn't have to pay taxes, the spokesman said. That's fodder for Democrats, who say one of Land's first campaign commercials touted her small business experience at the site that once held some 170 trailer park units and a motel. Families living there in 2004 had one year to move, with assistance in the form of relocation fees from the company, as developers worked to close the site down. Land's acceptance of company assets without paying taxes calls her employment history into question, [Lon] Johnson said. Questions, he argues, aren't being answered transparently.” [MLive; 8/14/14]

“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.”

###

Dianne Byrum Reveals Terri Lynn Land Is Still Hiding Assets, Calls for Full Transparency on Finances and Business Experience
Aug. 12th 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]

Terri Lynn Land Refuses to Answer Whether She Will Deny Her Employees Contraception Coverage
Aug. 11th 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]

Democrats: Snyder Should Come Clean on Scandal
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:

  • Huge 90% pay raises for Snyder political appointees at the state treasury department where a disgraced former director appointed by Snyder was forced to resign while continuing to be paid while on a Caribbean Cruise.   After resigning, former Treasurer Andy Dillon landed a job with a firm he oversaw while treasurer. 
  • Revelations involving the secretive NERD $1.6 million slush fund established by Snyder. Snyder has yet to disclose secret corporate donations to NERD and hired NERD’s corporate lobbyist, Richard Baird, who then helped protect Snyder’s cousin, George Snyder, from proposed budget cuts.
  • Rick Snyder’s top lieutenants, including Baird, intervened to protect George Snyder’s lucrative state furniture contract  that later ballooned to $41 million and benefited from a state office reshuffling scheme that ended up costing taxpayers more money for furniture and other office needs.  Meanwhile, the governor’s cousin won an additional contract from the state, this time a $731,000 no-bid contract from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
  • $240,000 in questionable expenses charged to the governor’s Educational Achievement Authority, a Detroit schools project wracked by poor student achievement.  Former EAA Chancellor John Covington and other EAA staff spent taxpayer money air travel around the country and for Covington’s personal chauffeur. 

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?

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WEEK OF ACTION: Michigan Dems To Highlight Terri Lynn Land’s Anti-Middle Class Agenda
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.”

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