Fund-raising by Gov. Snyder’s NERD Fund plummets in 2012

LANSING — Fund-raising by Gov. Rick Snyder’s controversial NERD Fund was down sharply in 2012, and the nonprofit organization spent more money than it took in, according to a financial report released late Wednesday.

In a report filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Snyder’s New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify Fund said it raised $368,000 in 2012, down from $1.3 million in 2011.

The fund reported spending just over $590,000 in 2012. A year earlier, it reported spending just under $866,000.

The fund, set up as a “social welfare organization” under federal nonprofit rules, is controversial because it can accept unlimited donations from individual and corporate donors who can remain anonymous. Good government watchdogs say such funds can conceal special interest groups’ financial influence on public policy.

Unlike donations to nonprofits such as the NERD Fund, donations to Snyder’s campaign committee and political action committee have limits on contributions, whose donors must be publicly reported.

The fund reported just over $124,000 in management expenses for non-employees. Snyder officials have said those expenses mostly relate to compensation for top Snyder adviser Richard Baird, who advises on personnel and education matters and holds the title “transformation manager” in the organizational chart of the governor’s office.

The fund also reported just under $174,000 in travel expenses, about $100,000 in office expenses, about $50,000 spent on conferences and meetings, about $19,000 on advertising and promotion, and $11,000 in legal fees.

It also reported paying $30,000 to a fund-raising contractor, Prues Hecker of Detroit. The company’s owner, Sarah Prues Hecker, is a former finance director for the Michigan Republican Party.

The report says the NERD Fund’s aims include “lessening the financial burdens of government in the state of Michigan,” and “improving Michigan’s business climate and employment opportunities.”?

Snyder, who took office in 2011, has declined requests to identify the donors.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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