Nick Krieger (@nckrieger):
By now, you’ve probably heard that Governor Rick Snyder will spend $1.2 million in public funds to retain outside criminal and civil attorneys to represent him in the Flint Water Crisis case. Specifically, he has hired the Grand Rapids law firm of Warner, Norcross & Judd for $800,000, and has hired the Detroit law firm of Barris, Sott, Denn & Driker for $400,000.
Many people were under the impression that the State Administrative Board would vote on authorizing these contracts at its meeting earlier today. However, just as I predicted last week, no such vote took place. Here’s why:
Michigan’s State Administrative Board consists of seven individuals: the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer (appointed by the governor), director of the department of transportation (appointed by the governor), and superintendent of public instruction (appointed by the state board of education). Because of this composition, the governor generally controls a majority of the State Administrative Board. Among other things, it is the role of the State Administrative Board to approve certain executive-branch contracts and expenditures for outside goods and services. Under Michigan law, the State Administrative Board may adopt resolutions and set its own rules of procedure.
Under Resolution 2003-1, adopted by the State Administrative Board in February 2003, the Board was formerly required to approve all state contracts exceeding $25,000 in value, including those requested directly by the governor. But in 2011—just a few months after Governor Rick Snyder took office—the State Administrative Board adopted Resolution 2011-1, which repealed and replaced Resolution 2003-1.
Under Resolution 2011-1 (which is still in effect today), the State Administrative Board is not required to approve any state contract unless it exceeds $250,000. More importantly, Resolution 2011-1 provides that the Board is not required to approve any contract that is requested directly by the governor, regardless of the amount.
That is why Snyder was able to execute his own contracts for private legal representation, totaling $1.2 million in state tax dollars, without ever seeking the approval of the State Administrative Board.