Snyder aide denied use of executive privilege, judge laughs at use of Nixon precedent, Schauer calls for release of NERD donors


Wow, they are getting seriously desperate

As I have written about before, Governor Rick Snyder has a pal of his working in the office next to his. Rich Baird is not paid by the taxpayers of Michigan. He’s paid out of Governor Snyder’s New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify Fund (NERD). This slush fund is financed by undisclosed corporate donors, likely the DeVos family and other wealthy corporatists.

Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette is overseeing a lawsuit filed by Robert Davis accusing the governor of violations of the Open Meetings Act during the hiring of Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. When asked to produce the names of the other 20 or so people he interviewed for the job, Baird claimed he was given “executive privilege” by the governor. Today, Judge Collette all but laughed him out of the court room and ordered Baird to reveal the names to Davis along with emails from Orr and the governor pertaining to his hiring. He also allowed Davis to subpoena records from Orr’s former employer Jones Day.

Baird claimed he didn’t have to produce internal documents about the other candidates under an executive privilege granted by the Republican governor. But Baird is not a state employee and is paid a $100,000 annual salary from Snyder’s nonprofit civic group, known as the NERD fund, which doesn’t disclose its private donors.

“He is a private citizen claiming to be under an umbrella of the governor,” Collette said during a Wednesday morning hearing. “The governor wants it both ways, apparently. He wants the ability to hide behind this corporate entity — to hide behind this umbrella and do all of this behind-the-scenes stuff and hide it from everybody.”

I really do adore William Collette.

Here’s the best part:

“There’s not one (state) case anywhere that says the governor has an executive privilege,” the judge said.

Peter Ellsworth, a private attorney representing Baird, cited two federal cases involving executive privilege: the 1807 treason trial of Aaron Burr and former President Richard Nixon’s attempt to keep records related to Watergate scandal under wraps.

“No one in their right mind in the last few years has ever cited Richard Nixon for anything,” Collette said, later adding: “Nixon doesn’t stand for anything other than someone attempting to hide a crime.”

I’m glad the gubernatorial race is starting to heat up right now. The timing is just so exquisitely perfect.

In other news, Snyder’s Democratic opponent Mark Schauer is calling for the governor to release the names of the donors to his secretive NERD slush fund:

In 2010, Rick Snyder promised he would make Michigan “a national leader in transparency and ethics.”

But just like a typical politician, Snyder is refusing to disclose the donors to his secretive “NERD Fund” – which directly pays the salaries of Snyder cronies, including the architect of the so called Skunk Works school voucher group.

Sign the petition and tell Rick Snyder to disclose NERD Fund donors immediately. Who’s donating to this secretive group? Billionaires like the Koch brothers, Donald Trump, and Dick DeVos? The truth is, nobody knows.

Taxpayers deserve to know who is trying to influence your administration. Specifically, we have a right to know the names of individual donors, corporations, foundations, and other special interests that are donating to this secret fund, and what they expect in return for their lavish donations.

You can sign his petition HERE.

[Caricature by DonkeyHotey from photos by Anne C. Savage for Eclectablog]