A couple of weeks ago, I reported that Richard Baird, Gov. Snyder’s top confidant and “Transformational Manager”, had threatened to sue both Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan AFL-CIO President Karla Swift. Baird, who has a history of bullying, is now demanding a retraction of an op-ed penned by Swift and published in a number of Gannet newspapers across the state. In his letter to them which was sent by Priority Mail, email, and fax, Baird tells them that, unless they retract the the op-ed, he will be suing them for libel.
Re: Notice of Libel and Request for Retraction
Dear Ms. Swift, Ms. Angel, Ms. Kuhlanek, and Ms. Martore:
Under the right given to me by Michigan Compiled Law 600.2911(2)(b), I write to demand the immediate retraction and correction of the false and derogatory statements you published in the Lansing State Journal under the header Rick Snyder paying the price for his underlings’ actions on August 29, 2014. These statements were intentionally and unequivocally designed to harm my professional reputation, paint me in a false light, and damage my existing contractual relationships. […]
Under Michigan law, your retraction must be made in the same manner and at the same time of day as the libel. Please issue your retraction as soon as possible.
Baird sent a similar letter to Stephen Henderson, the Editorial Page Editor for the Detroit Free Press, since Swift’s op-ed was published there, as well.
Karla Swift issued a quick and vigorous smack-down response:
Dear Mr. Baird:
I am in receipt of your September 4 letter to me and Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press and your September 6 letter to me and to the Lansing State Journal and Gannett Co., Inc.
On behalf of the Michigan State AFL-CIO, I have no intention of retracting the opinion column published in the Detroit Free Press and Lansing State Journal.
After your many years in the private sector, and your initial status as a privately-funded contractor while conducting public business in Michigan, perhaps you are not familiar with the transparency and accountability expected of public officials who are paid by Michigan taxpayers.
Rick Snyder, as you know, raised taxes on every working person in Michigan by increasing the state income tax. He also imposed extra burdens on retirees with a new pension tax, and on working families by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Rich, you’re entitled to your own opinion on these issues. You’re not entitled to my opinion. My opinion is that officials of an administration that has raised taxes on so many Michigan working families should pay their own taxes, in full and on time.
Karla Swift, President
Michigan State AFL-CIO
Baird may wish everyone to believe he hasn’t done anything wrong but the fact is he was forced to pay back nearly $17,000 in taxes that he owed to the State of Michigan and was registered to vote in two states. This is the man who is supposed to help turn around our state as a “Transformational Manager” and who was once a big shot at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, one of the biggest accounting firms in the country. Yet he can’t seem to manage his personal affairs within the law and, to top it all off, gets pissy when he gets called out on it.
As Finley Peter Dunne once wrote, “politics ain’t bean-bag”. If Richard Baird can’t handle the scrutiny and criticism that comes with his job for which he is paid by taxpayers, he should go back to the private sector from which he came and where he can bully his underlings and associates with impunity. If he wants to keep his cushy job on the public’s dime, he better get his act together and grow a thicker hide because this most certainly ain’t bean-bag and, given what this administration has done to workers and students and families and seniors in this state, he can expect all the scrutiny and criticism he’s getting and then some.