Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, it has been learned, used a private jet provided by wealthy Detroit business leaders to travel to Florida three times while her state was in severe lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trips, gubernatorial spokesman Bobby Leddy said, were taken so that the governor might visit her elderly father at the same time she was discouraging Michigan residents to stay in their homes and while hospital safety precautions kept people from visiting elderly relatives hospitalized because of the virus.
According to Deadline Detroit, Whitmer avoided a private plane fee of as much as $20,000 by arranging for Michigan billionaires to fly her where she wanted to go. Use of the jet she took is estimated to cost as much as $40,000, an estimated 25 percent of Whitmer’s pre-tax gubernatorial salary. “We wondered why she reached out to us instead of booking a private charter,” one of the owners of the plane is reported to have said. “You can’t tell a governor no. Who needs that kind of trouble?”
Whitmer, who was recently notified she would be receiving a 2021 Profiles in Courage award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for her work fighting the spread of COVID, has declined to say whether the people who provided the plane have been reimbursed for the cost of the flights.
“I’ve said everything I’m going to say about my trip to check on my father,” she told a reporter from WWTV. “I’ve got nothing to add. We don’t discuss my travel. I have received an incredible number of death threats over the last year and a half. There are a lot of reasons we don’t discuss how I travel and when I travel.”
Whitmer has come under fire multiple times for her management of state affairs during the pandemic. Her husband Marc Mallory reportedly tried to have his boat placed in the water before Memorial Day weekend in 2020 in an apparent violation of what some have called “the most draconian stay-at-home orders in the nation” and while exercising privileges available only to those who belong to “the aristocracy of pull.”
Whitmer’s evasions aside, the governor’s conduct brings her under further scrutiny over her haven’t bent or broken rules she was encouraging the residents of her state to follow. According to The Federalist’s Gabe Kaminsky, the Michigan chief executive had not been vaccinated before her four day trip to Florida, which took her from the state capital in Lansing to West Palm Beach – this after expressing repeated concerns that GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis had irresponsibly allowed the Sunshine State to reopen too much and too fast as the pandemic appeared to spread.
“Governor Whitmer lied about her trip to Florida and is compounding her lies by refusing to disclose the cost of the private plane she used, if she paid for her personal trip, and what the fair market value of that payment was,” Michigan GOP executive director Jason Roe said.
Peter Roff is a former U.S. News & World Report contributing editor now affiliated with several Washington, D.C. public policy organizations. He appears regularly as a commentator on the One America News network. Reach him by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff.