Snyder in 2013
|48th Governor of Michigan|
January 1, 2011 – January 1, 2019
|Preceded by||Jennifer Granholm|
|Succeeded by||Gretchen Whitmer|
Richard Dale Snyder
August 19, 1958
Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.
|Education||University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BGS, MBA, JD)|
Richard Dale Snyder (born August 19, 1958) is an American politician, business executive, venture capitalist, attorney, and accountant who served as the 48th governor of Michigan from 2011 to 2019. He is a member of the Republican Party.
From 2005 to 2007, Snyder served as the chairman of the board of Gateway, Inc. Prior to his election as governor, he co-founded Ardesta, LLC, a venture capital firm and HealthMedia, Inc., a digital health coaching company, both based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
On February 3, 2014, Snyder announced his candidacy for re-election as Governor of Michigan in 2014. He was elected to a second term in the November 2014 vote, defeating his major challenger, Democrat Mark Schauer. Snyder was term-limited and could not seek re-election in 2018. He was succeeded on New Year's Day of 2019 by Democrat Gretchen Whitmer.
He gained national attention during the Flint water crisis, in which he was accused of mishandling the situation that exposed 6,000 to 12,000 Flint children to lead. A report by the University of Michigan School of Public Health concluded Snyder "bears significant legal responsibility" for the Flint water crisis. On April 16, 2020, an article was published in Vice giving details of evidence of corruption, and a cover-up by Snyder, including details of how he was warned repeatedly about the dangerous effects of the decisions he had made about the water supply to the city of Flint. In January 2021, Snyder was among those charged for his role in the crisis.
Early life, education, and family
Snyder was born to Dale F. and Helen Louella Snyder in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he was raised. His father owned a local window-cleaning company in Battle Creek, and was of paternal Dutch descent. He has an elder sister. When he was 16, he took a business class at Kellogg Community College on weekends. By his senior year at Lakeview High School in Calhoun County, Snyder had earned 23 college credits.
Snyder visited the admissions office of the University of Michigan in November 1975 and spoke with the admissions director, who recommended that Snyder attend Michigan and create his own degree. Snyder earned his Bachelor of General Studies degree in 1977, an MBA degree in 1979, and a Juris Doctor degree in 1982, all from the University of Michigan. Snyder is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
He resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife Sue and their three children and has a vacation home near Gun Lake. The couple were married in 1987 at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn, Michigan. Snyder has indicated he is a practicing Presbyterian.
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Coopers & Lybrand
Snyder was employed with Coopers & Lybrand, from 1982 to 1991, beginning in the tax department of the Detroit office. Snyder was named partner in 1988. The next year, Snyder was named partner-in-charge of the mergers and acquisitions practice in the Chicago office. He served as an adjunct assistant professor of accounting at the University of Michigan from 1982 to 1984.
Snyder joined the computer company Gateway (based in Irvine, California) in 1991 as the executive vice president. He served as president and chief operating officer from 1996 to 1997. He remained on the board of directors until 2007. From 2005 to 2007, Snyder served as the chairman of the board. During 2006, Snyder served as interim chief executive officer while a search for a permanent replacement was made. His tenure on the Gateway board ran from 1991 to 2007 until Gateway was sold to Acer Inc. Snyder stated that he did not vote for outsourcing while he was a Gateway board director and he worked to bring jobs to America as the interim CEO of Gateway.
Venture Capital / Investments
In 1997, Snyder returned to Ann Arbor to found Avalon Investments Inc., a venture capital company with a $100 million fund, along with the co-founder of Gateway, Ted Waitt. Snyder was president and chief executive officer of Avalon from 1997 to 2000. He then co-founded Ardesta LLC, an investment firm, in 2000 along with three co-founders, which invested in 20 start-up companies through 2011. He was chairman and chief executive officer of the company.
In 1998, Snyder angel funded and co-founded, with University of Michigan (U-M) School of Public Health professor Victor Strecher, Ph.D., HealthMedia Incorporated (HMI), a developer of digital health coaching applications that implemented tailored questionnaires to gather personal information with the goal of creating customized health promotion plans for individuals. The U-M's Office of Technology Transfer played an integral role in helping HMI get started with Vic Strecher as the founding CEO and the U-M's publicly funded Health Media Research Laboratory (founded and directed by Strecher and now called the Center for Health Communications Research) providing the new company with exclusive research and development findings into health-related computerized tailored messaging and the exclusive licence to sell that content (UM spawns spinoffs, patents). Despite these university-based start-up and R&D advantages, HMI got off to a poor performance start and in 2001 Snyder replaced the founding CEO (Strecher remained on the HMI board) and personally rescued the company from insolvency with more of his own money. After multiple rounds of more additional financing through venture capital (Arboretum Ventures, Ardesta, Avalon Capital Group, AvTech Ventures, Chrysalis Ventures, Princeton Fund) and yet never achieving profitability, HMI was sold in 2008 for a reported $200 million to Johnson & Johnson. The sale of HMI transferred the ownership of all the personal health information accrued from their millions of users to Johnson & Johnson and played a key role in the negotiated price. At the time of the reported $200 million deal, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman was on Johnson & Johnson's board of directors and the U-M secured millions of dollars with its equity stake in the company. When campaigning for Michigan governor in 2010, Snyder was quoted as saying, "That company (HMI) is one of the best success stories in the state." (Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan) (The Ann Arbor Chronicle | Live at PJ’s: It’s HealthMedia!). Following Snyder's election as Michigan governor, Johnson & Johnson then folded HMI into a subsidiary (Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions) and is no longer operating in the state of Michigan.
Snyder serves on the boards of the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village (a National Historic Landmark), the Michigan chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and several boards associated with his alma mater the University of Michigan. He was also first chair of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in 1999 under Republican Governor John Engler and was also the chair of Ann Arbor SPARK.
Snyder competed with Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, state Senator Tom George, United States Congressman Peter Hoekstra, and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox as candidates for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Bill Ford Jr., Chairman of the Ford Motor Company, endorsed Snyder for the Republican nomination for governor. He campaigned as "pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, [and] pro-family," with a focus on the economy. His campaign emphasized his experience in growing business and creating jobs in the private sector, saying that his opponents were mainly career politicians. Snyder favors the standard exceptions on abortion for rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother (he signed legislation banning partial birth abortion in October 2011); he opposes federal funding of abortions; he would not ban embryonic stem cell research; he supports upholding traditional marriage, but would allow civil unions.
In August 2010, Snyder won the primary to secure the Republican nomination with a plurality of 36% of the vote. In the general election in November, Snyder faced Democratic nominee Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, and three minor party candidates. In October 2010, Snyder's campaign total exceeded $11.6 million, outpacing his opponent. Snyder released his tax returns for 2007 and 2008. Snyder won with 58 percent of the vote.
With Snyder's election in 2010, Republicans gained a majority in the Michigan House and increased the Republican majority held in the Michigan Senate. Snyder was the first Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to be elected governor of the state and at the time, the only CPA to serve as a governor in the United States.
In January 2014, Snyder launched his campaign for a second term as governor. He was unopposed in the Republican primary and faced Democratic former United States Representative Mark Schauer for the general election. Snyder was considered vulnerable in his bid for a second term, as reflected in his low approval ratings, however, Schauer suffered from a lack of name recognition. He garnered approximately 51% of the vote in the November 2014 election, defeating Schauer and earning a second term.
Governor of Michigan
Snyder was inaugurated as governor on January 1, 2011, at the Capitol in Lansing. His first executive order as governor was to divide the Department of Natural Resources and Environment into two distinct departments as they were a few years before: the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality.
On January 7, 2011, Snyder announced he was appointing Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura D. Corrigan to head the Department of Human Services and appointed Michigan Appeals Court Judge Brian K. Zahra to fill the resulting Supreme Court vacancy. Snyder delivered his first State of the State address on January 19, the earliest Michigan State of the State since Governor John Engler's 1996 address on January 17. He endorsed the Detroit River International Crossing for the first time publicly in the address, which was received favorably by Republicans. Snyder appointed Andy Dillon, a pro-life Democrat, and formerly Speaker of the House, to serve as state treasurer in his administration.
Snyder presented his first budget to the legislature on February 17, 2011, calling it a plan for "Michigan's reinvention," and saying it would end Michigan's deficits. He described the budget as containing "shared sacrifice" but added that his budget plan would create jobs and spur economic growth. The $46 billion budget reduced $1.8 billion in spending, raised taxes by eliminating tax exemptions on pensions, while at the same time abolished the state's complex business tax, replacing it with a significantly reduced flat tax on the profits of C corporations. This shift in tax burden led State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer to criticize the budget, saying that it did not involve "shared sacrifice," but instead was balanced "on the backs of our kids, working families, and our seniors" and "picks out who he's willing to leave behind." Snyder supported the government backed rescue of the American auto industry. This reflected the view of a 56% of Americans in 2012 who supported the 2009 auto bailout according to a Pew Research Center poll (63% support in Michigan).
On March 16, 2011, Snyder signed a controversial bill into law that gave increased powers to emergency managers of local municipalities to resolve financial matters. The bill was repealed by voter initiative in November 2012. However, weeks later in December 2012 Snyder signed a revised version of the bill back into law.
On December 22, 2011, Snyder signed into law The Public Employee Domestic Partner Benefit Restriction Act, which prevents the same-sex domestic partners of public employees at both the state and local level from receiving health benefits. In January 2012, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Snyder and the state of Michigan in federal court on behalf of five Michigan same-sex couples, each with one spouse working for local public schools or municipalities in Michigan. The suit alleges that the law violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. On June 28, 2013, a federal judge struck down the law. He has also engaged in trade missions to Europe and Asia, focused on attracting attention on companies such as Chrysler.
Following approval from the legislature, Snyder signed the fiscal year 2012 budget in June, the earliest it has been completed in three decades. In May 2012, Snyder joined a bipartisan effort urging the U.S. Congress to pass a measure to affirm that States can collect sales taxes on online purchases.
As governor, Snyder abolished the state's complex business tax in favor of a flat tax, and signed a bill which raised taxes by eliminating tax exemptions for pensions. For years Snyder had said anti-union legislation was not on his agenda, when on the morning of December 6, 2012, during a lame duck session of the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature, Snyder called a joint press conference with the legislative leadership to announce fast-track right-to-work legislation. The legislation passed both houses of the Michigan legislature that day, without committee votes or public hearings. A $1 million appropriation added to the legislation made it ineligible for repeal via referendum. On December 10, President Barack Obama visited Daimler AG's Detroit Diesel factory in Redford, Michigan, and told employees the legislation was about the "right to work for less money." The law effectively provides that payment of union dues cannot be required as a condition of employment. After a required four-day wait between the houses of the legislature passing each other's bills, Snyder signed the legislation into law on December 11, 2012, making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the United States as part of a plan to attract business and jobs to the state. The Employee Free Choice Act, as it was named, has received mixed results in polls.
A Market Research Group poll conducted in March 2012 showed Snyder's approval rating rising to 50% among likely voters, which matched that of President Barack Obama, placing Snyder among the most popular Republican governors in a state carried by Obama in the 2008 election cycle. Snyder was briefly mentioned as a possible pick to be the Republican Party candidate for Vice President of the United States in 2012. His business executive background and 'positive' style have been cited as political assets, with his deeds seen as strengthening the case for electing a business executive candidate as President of the United States. He was also mentioned as a potential Republican Party candidate for President of the United States in 2016.
In December 2012, Snyder signed legislation requiring facilities where at least 120 abortions are performed annually to obtain a state license as freestanding surgical facilities. Planned Parenthood had urged Snyder to veto the bill claiming it unnecessarily increases costs.
In January 2013, Snyder traveled to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He was last in Israel in 1999 as a venture capitalist. "I had a chance to see the start of high-tech boom in Israel and that's great to see. This is really a startup nation. They've done a great job of being entrepreneurial, innovative, and that's a major part of their economy now and the good part is we can learn from that."
In March 2013, Snyder announced a financial emergency for the city of Detroit and appointed an emergency manager, Kevyn Orr. As a result of emergency manager appointments under Snyder's watch, over half of the state's black population lives in cities where the local government was appointed rather than elected by the voters.
On December 27, 2013, Snyder signed a bill into law which nullifies Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which contains a controversial provision that allows the government and the military to indefinitely detain American citizens and others without trial.
On January 23, 2014, Snyder announced plans to offer visas to 50,000 immigrant workers with advanced degrees to help jumpstart the Detroit economy. The program's advocates claim the program is expected to bring an influx of new jobs and a more stable tax base.
In June 2014, Snyder appointed a 15-member commission for improving and reforming Michigan's public defense efforts for the poor in the criminal justice system in order to effectively meet and ensure the rights safe-guarded by the constitution.
On September 10, Detroit reached a deal with three Michigan counties over regional water and sewer services that could eliminate one roadblock to federal court approval of the city's plan to adjust its debt and exit bankruptcy. The deal with Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties creates a regional water and sewer authority, but allows Detroit to maintain control of its local system. The deal was crucial to adjusting the city's $18 billion of debt and exit the biggest-ever municipal bankruptcy.
On December 18, the Governor issued an executive order to establish the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development to house a new state agency, Talent Investment Agency, created from the merger of Michigan State Housing and Development Authority, the Workforce Development Agency, the Governor's Talent Investment Board and the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Over objections from the state legislature, the Department would come into effect 60 days after the start of the next legislative session.
In November 2015, Governor Rick Snyder declared his opposition to permitting Syrian refugee relocation to the state of Michigan.
A compilation of online surveys showed that Snyder's approval rating was below 40 percent in April 2018.
In December 2018, Snyder granted clemency to 61 Michigan prisoners.
|Roger Curtis||Director of the Department of Talent and Economic Development|
|Jeff Mason||CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation|
|David De Vries|
|Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Vadnais|
|Jamie Clover Adams||Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD)|
|Kriste Etue||Director of the Department of State Police|
|Brian J. Whiston||Superintendent of Public Instruction|
|Heidi E. Washington||Director of the Department of Corrections|
|Shelly Edgerton||Director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)|
|Agustin V. Arbulu||Director of the Department of Civil Rights (DCR)|
|Kirk T. Steudle||Director of the Department of Transportation (DOT)|
|Keith Creagh||Director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)|
|Patrick M. McPharlin||Director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS)|
|James Robert Redford||Director of the Veterans Affairs Agency|
|Wanda Stokes||Director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency|
Flint water crisis
From 2011 to 2015, Snyder appointed several individuals as Emergency Managers for Flint, Michigan. In 2014, emergency manager Darnell Earley was responsible for changing the source of drinking water for the city to the Flint River, which has trihalomethanes (TTHM) in it. It was later discovered that the water was too corrosive, and leached lead out of the service lines that was then ingested by the people of the city. In September 2015, a study by the Hurley Medical Center found that the community's children were being poisoned by the lead. While Flint transitioned back to its prior source of water in October 2015, lead levels in the city's water remain above the federal action level.
Amid allegations that the Michigan Health Department was stalling water treatment expert Marc Edwards' effort to obtain public records, journalists have asked when the State of Michigan knew about the lead poisoning. Details were released by the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News on 26 February 2016 that Valerie Brader, Snyder's senior policy adviser and deputy legal counsel, and his chief legal counsel Mike Gadola had expressed concerns to him about Flint's water in October 2014, nearly six months after Flint had begun using the river water to save money, despite Governor Snyder claiming he was unaware of the issue until very recently.
A petition from Angelo Scott Brown, a Flint pastor and former Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate, to recall Snyder was denied by the Board of State Canvassers. Filmmaker and Flint native Michael Moore has called for Snyder's arrest on charges of corruption and assault, and has started a petition on his website.
On November 13, 2015, four families filed a federal class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit against Snyder and thirteen other city and state officials, including former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and ex-emergency financial manager Darnell Earley. The complaint alleges that the officials acted recklessly and negligently, leading to serious injuries from lead poisoning, including autoimmune disorders, skin lesions, and "brain fog."
On December 15, 2015, Mayor Weaver declared the water issue as a citywide public health state of emergency to prompt help from state and federal officials. Snyder apologized for the incident. Snyder declared a State of Emergency on January 5, 2016 for Genesee County, Michigan.
On January 16, 2016, Snyder requested that the federal government declare a state of emergency in Flint.
In mid-April 2016, Snyder initiated his own 30-Day Flint Challenge. "The plan was to drink solely Flint tap water for an entire month to show residents that the water was safe and that he cared about the people." However, the Detroit Metro Times reported that the governor left town on April 23 to spend the week touring Europe for trade discussions, breaking his promise.
On April 16, 2020, an article was published giving details of evidence of corruption and a cover-up by Snyder and his "fixer" Rich Baird, and saying the statute of limitations on some of the most serious felony misconduct-in-office charges would expire on April 25, 2020. The article was published by Vice News, written by Jordan Chariton and Jenn Dize, the co-founders of Status Coup, with photos by Brittany Greeson. Responses from Michigan state authorities denied that a deadline was approaching and said that criminal prosecutions would follow.
Just before leaving the governor's office, Snyder formed a new Ann Arbor based company called RPAction LLC whose staff consists of former officials of the Snyder administration.
On June 29, 2019, Snyder accepted a soon-to-be appointment at Harvard to share his knowledge of state and local government. On July 3, he tweeted that he was "turning down" the offer: "It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative; our current political environment and its lack of civility makes this too disruptive. I wish them the best." 
Snyder endorsed Democrat Joe Biden during the 2020 United States Presidential election, alleging that "President Trump lacks a moral compass. He ignores the truth" and that the president "also demonstrated that he does not fully appreciate policy matters, including public health, the economy and foreign relations, nor does he seem to want to learn."
|Republican gain from Democratic||Swing|
|Republican||Rick Snyder (incumbent)||1,607,399||50.92%||-7.19%|
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- Portrait and Biographical Album of Ionia and Montcalm Counties, Mich. Chicago: Chapman Bros. 1891. p. 385. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
hung out his ‘shingle’ here in the fall of 1878, immediately after his graduation from the Bennett Medical College in Chicago.
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Defendants' conduct in exposing Flint residents to toxic water was so egregious and so outrageous that it shocks the conscience.
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- Snyder, Rick (July 3, 2019). "I have informed the HKennedy Sch that I am turning down its offer as Snr Res Fellow. It would have been exciting to share my experiences, both positive and negative; our current political environment and its lack of civility makes this too disruptive. I wish them the best". @onetoughnerd. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rick Snyder.|
- Office of the Governor Rick Snyder official Michigan government site
- Rick Snyder for Governor
- Rick Snyder at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan
| Governor of Michigan