Emails Show Republican Governor Used State Budget To Boost Profits For Family Member

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On March 24, 2014, the Michigan Democratic Party released emails that show Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, along with his former budget director and current adviser, colluded to give a massive taxpayer funded subsidy to a member of the governor’s family.

Cousin George’s furniture business got a big boost in Rick Snyder’s budget.

Governor Rick Snyder’s CEO cousin, George Snyder’s business partners received more than $19 million dollars, after jotting off a quick email to cousin Rick, on April 29th, 2011. Since 2011, the share of the taxpayer budget going to George Snyder’s industry has ballooned to $41 million. What is George Snyder’s industry? Office furniture.

Amid steep budget cuts that directly impacted Michigan’s struggling citizens, Rick Snyder’s administration wrote a multimillion dollar subsidy into the state’s budget, for cousin George’s office furniture business.

George Snyder is the owner of DBI Business Interiors, a firm with direct ties to Hayworth Inc. The emails show that Rick Snyder’s cousin directly lobbied the Governor’s office, in order to protect the company’s lucrative contract with the state, while other budget items were being ruthlessly slashed.

In 2011, the Michigan budget for office furniture was set at $1 million. Cousin George was not happy. He fired off an email to Governor Rick Snyder that read in part:

“We are very upset and nervous about the language in the Senate budget bill on furniture.”

Governor Rick Snyder sent a copy of the email to his current adviser, Richard Baird, who responded:

“John Nixon’s people are on this. Sit tight.”

John Nixon is Governor Snyder’s former budget director, who was in charge of the state’s budget in 2011. Less than two hours later, Nixon replied:

“We are on it.”

Rick Snyder’s cousin got preferential treatment, because he is the governor’s cousin.

According to Politico, another email between Baird and Nixon shows that Baird made a point of identifying George Snyder as a cousin of Governor Rick Snyder, when asking for changes to the budget.

Shortly after this, the state’s budget for office furniture was increased to $19.5 million dollars. The amount allocated for such spending has increased yearly, since 2011, the year that Rick Snyder first became governor of the state. Currently the state’s office furniture budget is set at $41 million.

What was that about wasteful spending?

The rise in office furniture funding that directly benefited the Governor’s cousin, coincides with deep cuts to other budget items, like education, infrastructure, revenue sharing for struggling cities like Detroit and Flint, as well as cuts in other areas which would have helped to strengthen Michigan’s communities.

The emails were released by the Michigan Democratic party at a press conference in Detroit, on Tuesday, March 25.

Michigan Democratic Party chair, Lon Johnson, released the following statement, along with the emails.

“While parents and seniors were being told by the governor they must sacrifice to balance the state’s billion-dollar deficit budget, Rick Snyder’s family and political friends were being taken care of. This scandal reveals hypocrisy reaching directly into the governor’s office and is a serious and disturbing breach of public trust.”