LANSING (WWJ/AP) — A top aide to Gov. Rick Snyder has paid $16,700 in property taxes and interest after improperly claiming a principal residence exemption on two houses for three years.
Richard Baird, the Republican governor’s transformation manager, made the payment Friday in suburban Lansing.
Baird bought a $500,000 house in Clinton County’s Bath Township in 2011 while his wife and daughter continued living in a $400,000 home in Palatine, Illinois.
Baird came under scrutiny Thursday because he shouldn’t have lowered his tax bill in Michigan and taken a “substantially similar” exemption in Illinois.
The state Democratic Party on Friday called on Snyder to fire Baird. But Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said Snyder’s focused on “continuing our state’s comeback.”
Wurfel said Baird also has asked to be removed from Illinois voter registration files since he’s registered in Michigan.
“He tries to go home on the weekends whenever possible to see his wife and family. It’s a challenging situation for them but one they believe is worth it to help make a difference in Michigan’s comeback and for the state where they are from, met and started their lives,” she said.
The Lansing-based news service MIRS first reported about the tax issue Thursday after investigating Baird’s residency when a conservative blogger criticized his recent candidacy as a Republican precinct delegate. Allies of Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley are working to stave off a tea party challenge to Calley at the state GOP nominating convention being held Saturday.
Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, raised concerns.
“Richard Baird deserves to be investigated for tax fraud and voter fraud. This isn’t the first time that Baird has come under scrutiny for questionable behavior,” Schauer spokeswoman Cathy Bacile Cunningham said in a statement.
Democrats earlier this year accused the Snyder administration of protecting his cousin’s furniture company from a proposed cut in a state contract while questioning Baird’s role because he was being paid by the Republican governor’s since-disbanded fund of anonymous donors. Baird now is on the state payroll.
Baird joined the governor-elect’s transition team after the 2010 election and was hired as a top adviser when he took office. He has handled recruitment for Snyder, including luring Washington, D.C., lawyer Kevyn Orr to become Detroit’s emergency manager in 2013.
TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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.