High-flying state spending by MSHDA official?

Private plane rides, ritzy hotel stays and fancy dinners... those are just a few of the things the head of a state agency has been spending your money on.

Now, the Michigan Democratic Party is calling on the state’s auditor general to take a closer look at these travel expenses.

Receipts show: $23,225.38 in rides on state owned private planes; $10,602.90 in first class airfare to China; $30,187.77 for trips to the Middle East where Scott Woosley stayed at a Ritz-Carlton in Saudi Arabia.

Scott Woosley is the Executive Director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, a state housing financing agency that’s supposed to help low and moderate income people get loans for affordable housing

“What we’re seeing is a pattern of abuse by this administration, and their spending. And what we found was very disturbing,” said Lon Johnson, the Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.

The Michigan Democratic Party asked for the travel and dining receipts, and obtained them through the Freedom of Information Act.

“I don’t know why somebody who’s trying to build housing in MI is in Dubai, quite frankly. Now there may be reasons they were seeking investors -- travel overseas isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What we need though is to make sure we’re doing it for the lowest possible expense so that we protect taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak).

The records they’re releasing show the Woosley and his staff racked up more than $200,000 in expenses. The receipts show they often stayed at expensive hotels on their overseas trips. On a trip to Nebraska, they rented a limo for seven hours when they flew to the wrong city.

Woosley refused to answer specific questions, but released this statement Thursday:

“I would never expect the State to reimburse what is not properly reimbursable or at a rate that would be inappropriate. I am asking the Department of Treasury to closely review any previously paid expenses to determine if there was anything at all that was inadvertently reimbursed. If any such instances are found, I will write a personal check for anything that was not an appropriate state-approved expense or that meets established guidelines. “There is too much positive action taking place at the state -- and at the Authority -- for any of this to get in the way of our forward momentum. We are moving the state in a direction that benefits all Michiganders. I will continue to do the good work we have started and that is to help meet the housing needs of Michiganders, tackle blight and build strong communities and neighborhoods as well as attract investment, capital, jobs, and economic activity.”

A spokeswoman for the Governor says they’re looking closely at this and working to make sure all state agencies are following the rules when it comes to travel and expenses.

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