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Michigan housing chief resigns after big spending

AP Wire • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:57 PM

State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Scott Woosley said he did not want news reports about his spending "to be a distraction from the transformative work that is happening at MSHDA and across the state."

State Treasurer Kevin Clinton, who chairs the authority's board, will recommend that it appoint Deputy State Treasurer Wayne Workman as acting director while a search for a permanent replacement is conducted.

The Detroit Free Press, citing receipts uncovered by the Michigan Democratic Party in a public records request, reported Thursday that Woosley stayed in hotels that cost $400 to $500 a night, rented a limo in Nebraska after mistakenly flying to the wrong city and expensed filet mignon, escargot and foie gras.

Woosley initially told the newspaper the charges were the "normal cost of doing business" and said reimbursement requests for alcohol were unintentional. Later Thursday, he asked the state Treasury Department to review previously paid expenses so he could write a personal check for anything that was inadvertently reimbursed.

Woosley's annual salary was $135,000. His resignation Friday was effective immediately.

In some cases, officials in charge of approving expenses only approved portions of his expense claims and denied alcohol charges. Woosley was denied reimbursement for the $180 massage while staying at the Ritz Carlton in Saudi Arabia while on a trip to attract immigrant entrepreneurs to Michigan.

Woosley also resigned as president and CEO of the Michigan Community Development Corp., which runs the state's EB-5 visa program.

The Democratic Party noted that Woosley ran up a $621.49 tab at a Lansing-area restaurant while taking new MSDHA board member Scott Wierda and two staffers to dinner. It said Woosley was picked by a board made up of people, including Wierda, appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder or who are in his cabinet.

When Woosley was chosen to head MSDHA in October 2012, Snyder called him a "great choice." He had earlier appointed Woosley, a Rochester real estate financial developer, to the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority.

"Gov. Snyder has created a culture that turns a blind eye to the misuse of public funds and the public trust," Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson said.

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said he did not specifically ask Woosley to resign, but the decision was "one of mutual agreement."

House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said the state auditor should investigate travel and other spending at the housing authority, treasury department and other agencies.

Woosley said he was leaving a talented management team in place to continue "innovative" initiatives such as the Michigan Mezzanine Investment Fund and EB-5 regional center. Under his watch, he said, the state launched a $100 million blight removal campaign in five cities, maintained MSHDA's AA bond rating and created a program to provide down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers in eight cities.

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