Michigan housing chief resigns after big spending

The head of Michigan's housing agency resigned Friday, a day after he came under scrutiny for seeking state reimbursement for expensive flights, meals and even a $180 massage.
AP Wire
Aug 10, 2014

 

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.

Comments

happycamper

You got caught but that does not dismiss you resposibilty, sir !!!

Vladtheimp

I think all of the organizations he headed should be audited since his first reaction to getting caught was the the things he charged to the taxpayer were simply the normal costs of doing business.

When politicians abuse their office, whether they be democrats or republicans (in this case a republican), they should be held accountable in some serious way instead of simply accepting his resignation.

just-a-guy

I understand there are perks that come along with being an elected official.
But I am tired of politicians simply getting a pass on issues like this. Like, oops, I didn't know that I shouldn't be doing things like that. You are put into office to represent and look out for the best interests of the people of your state. You are a servant of the people. You are supposed to act accordingly. Not like your someone special. It's supposed to be a job. Not a lifestyle changes. Citing the good things that you may have done doesn't excuse the issue here. Your expected to do good things, it's your job. And was a trip to Saudi Arabia really a worth while expense?

Boycotter

not so HAPPY ENDINGS for this politician . . .

owell

Just think of all the Local, State and Federal employees that have these types of choices everyday. Feds alone, just under 3.5 trillion dollars in one year gone, spent. Almost 3 million Federal workers, many making daily decisions on how and what to spend our money on. Beyond comprehension on how much fraud must goes on. Yet we keep growing this unappeasable, gluttonous pig we call Government. We cannot control it any longer. Good thing we have a thread of oversight and transparacy: http://www.100percentfedup.com/n...

Interestedreader

I keep reading about the new "NORMAL", guess this what it means to some:)

theQuin

Citizens should review all government officials' reimbursement and expense accounts. Elected officials - even local ones - need to be held accountable. Whatever they are charging to citizens must have some benefit to the community, if government is to serve as a good steward of the taxpayer dollar.

 

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