$41 Million Furniture Contract Controversy Hits Governor’s Office

$41 Million Furniture Contract Controversy Hits Governor’s Officectechad

(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 26, 2014)

Documents obtained by the Michigan Democratic Party reveal that Governor Rick Snyder’s cousin has benefited to the tune of $41 million in furniture sales to the state.

According to documents, the state contracted with Holland-based Haworth Inc. to the tune of $19 million in 2011, then jumping to $41 million in 2012.  Emails also show that employees of the administration intervened when a proposed spending cap would have limited the ability of Haworth to profit off state contracts.

Holland-based Haworth Inc. partnered with DBI Business Interiors, a company owned by George Snyder to provide furniture for the state.  Richard Baird, a top Snyder adviser, stepped in to protect those companies’ interests. The emails between Baird, Budget Director John Nixon, and George Snyder took seed04_gallowayplace from April to July 2011, in the midst of the state attempting to balance the budget.

On April 26, 2011 the Senate passed the budget with a provision that limited new office furniture purchases to $1 million.  Three days later George Snyder reached out to Baird, stating in an email that he was “very upset and nervous about the language in the Senate budget bill on furniture.”

Baird immediately contacted Budget Director Nixon, who responded, “We are on this.”   Less than two weeks later, the state House passed a budget without the $1-million limit on new furniture purchases. That budget was signed by Governor Rick Snyder in June 2011.

The Haworth contract was more than doubled in September, 2012 to $41 million.waterwork

“The $41 million question Republican Gov. Snyder is trying to avoid is why it was so important that the State buy huge amounts of brand new office furniture from his cousin at a time of massive budget cuts to schools, layoffs and new taxes on the middle class,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair.  “How does he explain shielding his family member’s contracts from cuts and then doubling them to Michigan’s seniors and families that had to sacrifice? Snyder owes us an answer, not more trite dismissals.”

According to ABC News 10, “A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says the administration would have done the same thing for any resident concerned about a Michigan issue, saying that the Democrats’ accusation has no merit.”

Snyder’s cousin’s $41 million new office furniture contract  can be found here. The increase of the contract is noted on page 6.

Email documentation can be found here.

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