DeSantis Official Trolls Whitmer Over Travel Scandal with Ingenious Gift


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has a message for the plebeians of her state: “Let them eat staycations.”

Earlier this month, Whitmer was publicly warning Michiganders off of travel to other states, particularly the Sunshine State. As The Associated Press reported on April 3, Whitmer said “that a factor in Michigan’s surging COVID-19 cases is fewer people were infected earlier in the pandemic than in other states, and she expressed concern about spring break travel to Florida.”

“Florida and Michigan have reported the highest and second-highest number of cases of a more contagious variant that was first identified in the U.K. Michigan had the United States’ worst infection rate in the past two weeks,” the AP reported.

According to the AP, Whitmer “urged people returning from Florida [that they should] work from home and have their kids learn virtually for at least a week. She and health officials later recommended that people get tested after in-state, out-of-state or international travel.”

“By the recent numbers, we know we’ve got a bit of a reality check happening,” Whitmer told reporters during a visit to a vaccination site in Oakland County, according to the AP. “We know that COVID is still very present and it is still a very real threat. We may be seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still in the tunnel.”

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That “reality check” apparently hasn’t always been present at the top levels of state government, since — quelle surprise — Whitmer had traveled to Florida herself and then lied about it, as Fox News reported Thursday. And her state’s chief operations officer had visited Florida as well.

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and his officials don’t seem upset about the hypocrisy, though. In fact, the state has a message for Whitmer: “Don’t be a stranger!”

In an open letter released Monday, Florida’s chief financial officer trolled Whitmer’s boat by providing her with some brochures to pass along to other Michiganders who might be interested in a trip south.

“With recent media reports that you and your Chief Operations Officer (COO) separately visited Florida, I wanted to take the liberty of providing you and your whole team with materials from VISIT FLORIDA, our state’s official marketing board, for future visits. Included in this letter I’ve attached a summary of promotional materials to help plan your next visit,” Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis wrote.

Do you think Gretchen Whitmer's travel to Florida was hypocritical?

“As both you and your COO now know from personal experience, Florida is safe for travel. With over 5 million Floridians vaccinated, unlike a lot of other states, Florida has largely returned to normal. The fact is Florida had a lower mortality rate than the locked-down state of New York. Indeed, our Governor successfully balanced fighting the Coronavirus with keeping our small businesses open.”

Patronis wrote that: “No doubt, many of your fellow Michiganders traveled to the Sunshine State this year – and we proudly welcomed them! Moreover, much like yourself, many of your constituents likely have loved ones in Florida they haven’t visited in some time.

“I know members of your team are telling you to downplay the recent trips to Florida. Don’t listen to them. Now that you and your COO have personally experienced what the Sunshine State has to offer, I encourage you to share your experiences publicly. More importantly, however, don’t be a stranger!”

He signed off on the letter thusly: “See you again soon.”

Probably not. Whitmer, already controversial, is facing blowback for how her administration handled her own trip to Florida as well as the one taken by her state’s chief operations officer — blowback severe enough to disabuse them from taking future trips to the state.

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Whitmer’s trip was first revealed via a state political newsletter, according to the Detroit Free Press. According to the governor’s office, the visit was to her ailing father, although the office refused to disclose what state she traveled to, citing “ongoing security concerns.”

However, her father has a home in Florida and it didn’t take long for other media sources to confirm she’d visited the state.

Whitmer’s office tried to further buttress her case by saying she “did not go on spring break,” had traveled “to assist her elderly father who is battling a chronic illness” and that her father “was fully vaccinated.” At the time of her trip, Whitmer hadn’t been.

“The governor did not go on spring break, and she has not left the state in over a month,” her office said, according to WJBK-TV. “In the past six months she has left the state three times, once for the inauguration, once to assist her elderly father who is battling a chronic illness, and once to visit with Michigan’s National Guard troops.”

Whitmer would eventually admit she’d gone to Florida in March, as Fox reported Thursday. It’s worth noting that just the week before, she’d lied about all of this during a podcast interview. According to Fox, the governor said that during spring break, she was “here in town the whole time” and her last trip “was to Israel” on state business.”

That Israel trip occurred in November, according to The Detroit News — before the inauguration of President Joe Biden in January, before Whitmer’s visit to Michigan National Guard members stationed in Washington, D.C., in March, and before her trip to Florida to visit her ill father the same month.

But yes, she didn’t go on spring break. Not that this should matter, given there are plenty of Michiganders who have been strongly discouraged from visiting ill family members by Whitmer and others in high office in Michigan.

There’s a bigger problem, however, when you consider Whitmer’s chief operations officer, Tricia L. Fosterdid go on a spring break trip to the Florida Keys.

According to Breitbart, which broke the story, Foster visited Florida while another individual she was supposed to be traveling with — apparently her son, Breitbart reported — was at home with COVID-19.

“Missing his [senior] trip to the Bahamas so planned girls plan b 24 hours before flight,” Foster reportedly wrote in a Facebook message about why he was absent from pictures. (Breitbart posted a screenshot of the message.)

Whitmer’s press secretary dismissed this because he said Foster had previously had COVID, was vaccinated and that the report about her trip was “a partisan attack from a garbage white nationalist website,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

But aren’t we supposed to be staying home? Especially since we purportedly don’t know how well vaccines work against variants of the coronavirus? These questions apparently weren’t put to her spokesman, although I imagine the response would be something like: “What part of ‘garbage white nationalist website’ do you not understand? Good day, sir!”

But, yes, while Whitmer and Foster were playing the Marie Antoinette “let them eat staycations” card, they were perfectly convinced Florida was safe … for them.

I don’t think Florida will be seeing either one of them soon.

However, the Sunshine State might be seeing a lot more Michigan residents who realize those who govern them don’t actually follow the rules and advice they set for everyone else.

If that causes infections to spike — not a likely proposition — Whitmer can’t say she didn’t have it coming. Whatever the case, I hope she enjoys the brochures.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture