Friday, August 22, 2014

Did al Qaeda Underwrite Snyder's NERD Fund?

Probably not.

And it probably was not funded by Vladimir Putin, Frank Underwood, Kim Jong-Il, Anthony Stark or Walter 'Heisenberg' White.  But we don't know and won't know, because the Governor's now-disbanded NERD fund (which paid for all sorts of things "ancillary" to being Governor) will not reveal who paid the bills.

(Much) more likely is that the money came in huge chunks from Snyder's corporate friends, and from politically active folks like the Koch brothers and the DeVos family. But we don't know, because the Governor still refuses to tell us.

The questions become more critical today in light of new revelations about Snyder's "Transformation Manager," Rich Baird. Until 2013 Baird operated pretty much in secret because he was not a government employee. The source of his paycheck was a secret. (After a lot of public blowback he was moved to the state payroll at $140,000/year.)

Snyder's office has confirmed Rich Baird is registered to vote in both Illinois and Michigan. Snyder's office has also confirmed Baird claimed homestead property tax breaks in both Illinois and Michigan (stating both homes are his 'primary residence'). The Governor's office called those two facts "inadvertant" and totally innocent.

And it may turn out Rich Baird avoids the Governor's pension tax by claiming Illinois residency for tax purposes.

The double life of Rich Baird was brought to light yesterday by the MIRS subscription newsletter.

The Mark Schauer campaign is adding Baird's unusual dual existence to the ever-growing list of scandals linked to the Snyder administration:

  • Keeping former state Treasurer Andy Dillon on the payroll for weeks after he left the job, even paying him while Dillon took a Caribbean cruise
  • Working to drastically increase state spending on new furniture for Snyder appointees, with the $41-million contract going to the Governor's cousin
  • Failing to rein in the high-flying expense-account loving director of MSHDA until his extravagant travel bills were revealed by the Democratic party
  • Hiring a chancellor for the controversial Education Achievement Authority who resigned after news reports of more extravagant travel spending, along with poor results in the Detroit school system he took over
  • The NERD Fund paid for a luxury condo for Detroit Emergency Manager Kevin Orr (on top of his $275,000 state pay check)
UPDATE
Two days after getting caught with his hands in the cookie jar, Rich Baird has paid $16,700 in back taxes. As with all of Snyder's recent scandals, the announcement was made on a Friday afternoon (the optimal time to make an announcement that you don't want people to hear).

Today's news reports on Baird:
Detroit News
Detroit Free Press
mLive
Michigan Democratic Party news release

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