Gov. Snyder defends key aide amid calls for his firing

Aug 22, 2014

Gov. Rick Snyder is standing by his longtime friend and key adviser, Rich Baird, amid calls for his firing by state Democratic Party officials.

Rick Snyder and Rich Baird’s relationship goes back a long way.  Baird hired Snyder after the future governor graduated from college.
Rick Snyder and Rich Baird’s relationship goes back a long way. Baird hired Snyder after the future governor graduated from college.
Credit State of Michigan

Rich Baird has played an important behind-the-scenes role for the governor since Snyder took office.

At the same time, he was claiming primary residence exemption on his property taxes in Michigan and Illinois. He could only legally claim the exemption in one state. He’s also registered to vote in both states – another no-no.

Baird has taken steps to deal with both issues. This morning, he paid $16,700 to the Clinton County Treasurer to clear up the property tax bill on his home in Bath. 

Baird has also sent a certified letter to Illinois officials to cancel his voter registration.

“He did some unfortunate, inadvertent things. He’s already corrected them,” Snyder says. “He addressed it. He took care of it. It’s behind him.”

But Democrats want the governor to fire Baird.

“Rich Baird should no longer hold a position of trust in state government. He needs to leave the Snyder administration,” says Lon Johnson, chairman of the state Democratic Party. 

Baird has been called Rick Snyder’s “Transformation Manager." He’s been a key adviser to Snyder and helped with several major administration policies.  

But Johnson says Baird is not just a key player in the Snyder administration, he’s also an example of what’s wrong with it.

“It seems like every week we’re talking about more hypocrisy, more scandals showing Rick Snyder and his administration thinking they can play by one set of rules while the rest of Michigan plays by another,” says Johnson.

Snyder and Baird’s relationship goes back a long way: Baird hired Snyder after the future governor graduated from college.