AFL-CIO: Gov. Rick Snyder's 'Secretive NERD Fund . . . Is Ripe For Abuse''

Letting undisclosed donors support public programs through the governor's NERD Fund "shields the Snyder administration from transparency and is ripe for abuse," the Michigan AFL-CIO president writes in a Detroit News guest commentary.

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Karla Swift, head of the Michigan AFL-CIO, fears "severe conflicts of interest" can arise from private gifts to support Snyder administration programs.

Here's part of what Karla Swift says:

Gov. Rick Snyder claims that his secretive NERD Fund gives taxpayers a break. But the reality is that citizens pay for government, in part, so that they can hold government accountable.

Last month we learned that Snyder’s NERD Fund, a nonprofit organization that is immune from public scrutiny, pays for Detroit EM Kevyn Orr’s housing, creating a huge conflict of interest. Are NERD Fund contributors receiving preferential treatment or contracts as the city navigates bankruptcy?

We simply don’t know. The NERD Fund is a nonprofit organization operating as an extension of our government, and yet it does not disclose its contributors.

Swift also voices concern about a top Snyder adviser, Transformation Manager Richard Baird, "whose six-figure salary comes from the NERD Fund."

There could be severe conflicts of interest if those paying into the NERD Fund stand to gain from Baird’s unprecedented influence over state policies.

Legitimate government employees are barred from acting in ways that enrich themselves or their friends. Non-government employees acting on behalf of politicians and their special interest funders are not held to the same standard. The Snyder administration is intentionally operating in the shadows and we should all be crying foul.

Read more:  The Detroit News
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