LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A nonprofit fund set up by Gov. Rick Snyder after he took office is being dissolved after complaints that the donors are anonymous.
Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said Monday that the New Energy to Reinvest and Diversify fund will be replaced with a new fund that will go “far and above” what the law requires.
Nicknamed the Nerd Fund, drawing on Snyder’s campaign description of himself as “one tough nerd,” the fund operated as a “social welfare organization” under federal nonprofit rules, accepting unlimited anonymous donations. It’s aims included “lessening the financial burdens of government in the state of Michigan,” and “improving Michigan’s business climate and employment opportunities.”
Snyder has come under criticism because the fund was used to pay one of his top advisers, who was moved onto the state payroll last week. The fund also covers expenses of Detroit’s emergency manager.
Snyder says he doesn’t know who donated to the fund, which raised $1.7 million in two years. It was formed to lessen the “financial burdens of government.”
In an email to WWJ Newsradio 950, Wurfel said all state and federal tax and election laws and regulations were met and followed closely.
But attention to the fund became an “unnecessary distraction.”
She said new fund will include disclosure of donors and amounts given as well as detailed overview of expenditures by category. Both will be shared and posted online quarterly.
“The function and purposed of fund is essential to continued reinvention efforts, saving taxpayer dollars, and helping ensure responsive, accessible government,” Wurfel said. “On previous donors, those were parameters of the fund at the time and that will be adhered to. But again, all laws and regulations have been met and followed to the letter and spirit of law.”
Snyder’s political opponent, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, said the dissolving of the Nerd fund “should be considered an admission of guilt” by the governor.
“If it’s right to disclose the Governor’s political donors moving forward, then it was the right thing to do from day one,” Schauer said in a statement.”
“Simply closing this secret fund without disclosure sends a clear message that Gov. Snyder has something to hide, and that his secret special interest donors are more important than being open and transparent with Michigan taxpayers.
The appearance of impropriety and conflicts of interest won’t go away until the Governor discloses existing NERD Fund donors. Michigan taxpayers deserve answers, not more political excuses from Gov. Snyder.”
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)