August 11, 2014 at 6:02 pm

IRS put lien on ex-Mich. housing chief's home for unpaid taxes

Woosley (Charles V. Tines / Detroit News)

Lansing— The state housing authority director who abruptly resigned last week amid a political furor over his eye-popping travel expenses was slapped with a lien on his house for about $105,000 in unpaid taxes in late 2012 while serving in the position, records show.

The Internal Revenue Service placed a lien on Scott Woosley’s Rochester home in November 2012, just weeks after he was hired as executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, public records show. He paid off the $105,179 tax debt within two months and the IRS lifted the lien in January 2013, according to public records.

Earlier that year, the state of Michigan slapped a lien on Woosley’s home for $11,982 in unpaid taxes, records show.

That lien was released May 9, 2012 — just two weeks before Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Woosley to a seat on the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority, which is charged with disposing of foreclosed property reverted to the state for unpaid taxes.

The Michigan Democratic Party, which unearthed the travel records that caused Woosley to quickly step down, highlighted his tax liens Monday in an attempt to claim Snyder administration appointees play by a different set of rules than average taxpayers.

“How is someone who is being pursued by the federal and state government for massive unpaid taxes gets appointed by the state to oversee housing?” Lon Johnson, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, said Monday. “It’s a bit ironic that he was going over to run an agency to dispose of property that came into (the state’s) possession because of unpaid taxes.”

This isn’t the first time a Snyder appointee has had problems with unpaid taxes.

A day after Snyder tapped Kevyn Orr to be Detroit’s emergency manager in March 2013, The Detroit News exposed that Orr had active liens on his $1 million home in Chevy Chase, Md., for unpaid taxes linked to a nanny for his children.

The governor’s office acknowledged they didn’t discover the tax liens while courting Orr to leave his law firm, Jones Day. Orr paid off the liens within days of The News bringing them to his attention.

Snyder was unaware of Woosley’s tax lien issues, spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said Monday.

“As you know, our vetting process is different and far more thorough now,” Wurfel said in an email to The News.

Woosley voluntarily resigned Friday after the Democratic Party released copies of his travel records showing he had racked up more than $100,000 in expenses from jet-seting across the country and around the world for MSHDA and the Michigan Community Development Corporation. He did not return a message Monday seeking comment.

Also Friday, Woosley resigned from the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority’s board, MSHDA spokeswoman Katie Bach said Monday.

Democrats have called into question Woosley’s continued connection to Labor-Management Fund Advisors LLC, a Troy-based real estate investment firm he co-founded.

The firm’s website lists him as managing director, and emails obtained by the Democratic Party show an employee at the firm coordinated Woosley’s schedule with his MSHDA executive assistant.

Woosley previously told The Detroit News he was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the firm, but retained his ownership interest stake and continued to share in the profits while working for the state. He said there was no conflict of interest because the real estate firm doesn’t do business with the state, Woosley said.

“Most of our activities are in other areas of the country,” Woosley said Thursday.

Johnson said Woosley’s dual roles in state government and the private sector is “troubling” and “just not acceptable.”

“When you go to work for the people of Michigan, that should be your sole employer,” Johnson told reporters in a conference call.

clivengood@detroitnews.com
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