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Politics & Government
Thu August 7, 2014
Democrats blast state housing director for lavish expenses
Michigan Democrats are blasting the head of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for racking up tens of thousands of dollars in expenses.
The Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) released public documents Thursday showing items expensed by MSHDA Director Scott Woosley since 2012. They include things like lavish meals and hotels costing between $400 and $500 a night.
“That’s money that could have been used to support affordable housing and community development,” MDP Chair Lon Johnson told reporters during a roundtable Thursday. “Instead, these public funds were used to ensure that Woosley and other top staff at MSHDA enjoyed a first class, Donald Trump-like lifestyle.”
Johnson says it’s fine for state officials to go on business trips that produce a good return on investment for the state. But, he asked, “what’s the (return on investment) on the booze and backrubs?”
The records suggest Woosley did try to get reimbursed for liquor and massages. But the housing authority did not approve those expenses.
State House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel says his caucus plans to respond by introducing legislation to limit the amount of money state officials can expense for overseas travel. He says it would also ban state officials from expensing travel in limousines.
“We also call on the state auditor general to immediately conduct a thorough investigation into travel and other spending at MSHDA, the (state) Department of Treasury, and throughout the Snyder administration,” he said.
Greimel and other Democrats also called on the Gov. Rick Snyder to act to have Woosley removed as director of MSHDA.
A spokesperson for state House Majority Leader Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, did not immediately dismiss Greimel’s call for legislation in response to the situation.
“We support reasonable controls on spending of taxpayer dollars,” said Ari Adler. “We’re not fond of political stunts. So, we will have to take a look at the legislation to see which category it falls into.”
Scott Woosley issued the following statement Thursday:
“I would never expect the state to reimburse what is not properly reimbursable or at a rate that would be inappropriate. I am asking the Department of Treasury to closely review any previously paid expenses to determine if there was anything at all that was inadvertently reimbursed. If any such instances are found, I will write a personal check for anything that was not an appropriate state-approved expense or that meets established guidelines.
“There is too much positive action taking place at the state – and at the Authority – for any of this to get in the way of our forward momentum. We are moving the state in a direction that benefits all Michiganders. I will continue to do the good work we have started and that is to help meet the housing needs of Michiganders, tackle blight and build strong communities and neighborhoods as well as attract investment, capital, jobs, and economic activity.”