Top Snyder aide claimed tax exemption on 2 homes

Richard Baird registered to vote in both states

By Mara MacDonald - Reporter

LANSING, Mich. - If there's any doubt it's campaign season, this should put it to rest -- the Michigan Democratic Party went digging into the taxes of top Rick Snyder appointee Richard Baird.

Baird is an old friend of the governor and a former global partner at Price Waterhouse Coopers. Baird is currently on the state payroll at $140,000 a year as Snyder's transformation manager. He is one of the most powerful men in state government. The MDP found Baird is claiming both his homes in Michigan and Illinois as his primary residences. In addition, the MDP found he's registered to vote in both states.

The MDP has been very effective this summer at lobbing bombs like this one at the administration. The last one cost the head of MSHDA his job after the Michigan Democrats exposed his lavish expense reports.

As far as the attack on Baird, top strategists like Decider Strategies Principal Stu Sandler said they're going to have to try a whole lot harder than a clerical error.

"I think it's much ado about nothing," he said. "It's a staffer who made a clerical error ,who admitted it and is fixing it. If you look the other way you have Mark Schauer who is a gubernatorial candidate who has no plan, who has no intention on providing a plan and on top of it, (he) committed the worst campaign finance violation in the history of this state."

Well-known Democratic strategist Joe DiSano has a very different take when it comes to Baird.

"(Baird) is the shadowy secret hand in the Snyder administration. You can tie Rich Baird to every sleazy nook and cranny of the Snyder administration," Disano said.

The Democrats have been consistently attacking the Snyder administration for the last eight months, and Mark Schauer had a serious TV ad buy this summer to build his name ID. Multiple recent polls suggest the race is close. Experts say let's see if those numbers hold once the governor gets into campaign mode and gets up on TV.

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