Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Florida trip only gets worse the more that we learn about it.
Whitmer, one of the Democrats’ most visible lockdown hawks, made news when it was revealed last month she’d traveled to the Sunshine State before specifically telling Michiganders to stay away from it because of fears regarding the coronavirus. Her people defended her by saying the visit was to see her ailing father and that she “did not go on spring break.” (It didn’t help, of course, that one of her aides had gone on a spring-break-style trip to Florida just prior to that.)
News of the trip first broke on April 19 — and, like a busted faucet, the drips just keep on coming. On Wednesday, journalist Charlie LeDuff reported on Deadline Detroit that Whitmer flew on a private jet shared by a group of rich, Detroit-area businessmen.
“We wondered why she reached out to us instead of booking a private charter,” one of the plane’s owners told LeDuff. “You can’t tell a governor ‘no.’ Who needs that kind of trouble?”
The trip also occurred before Whitmer was vaccinated against COVID-19, according to The Detroit News.
And it gets worse. The federal flight records LeDuff got hold of indicate Whitmer was in Florida for four days, double the two days her people originally said she was there, LeDuff wrote.
“She flew on the businessmen’s Gulfstream G-280 twin jet. It was cold and clear on the morning of March 12 when she lifted off from Lansing and it was warm and sunny when she touched down in West Palm Beach at 9:37 a.m., federal flight records show,” LeDuff wrote.
“She left West Palm Beach on Monday March 15 at 4:37 p.m. She touched down at 7:01 p.m in Lansing.”
There’s also the matter of the cost of the flight aboard the Gulfstream G-280 private jet.
“Had Whitmer booked a round trip flight from Lansing to West Palm Beach through a private charter company, it would likely have cost $10,000 to $20,000, or a whopping $40,000 for the actual jet she took, according to private jet websites,” LeDuff wrote.
“The latter is more than 25 percent of the governor’s salary — before taxes.”
According to The Associated Press, the plane Whitmer traveled in is owned by Air Eagle; an executive vice president of Detroit’s PVS Chemicals is the listed agent for the jet.
According to the AP, the family that owns the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada, also owns a stake, as does the family that founded Meridian Health, a company that sold in 2018 for $2.5 billion, according to Crain’s Business Detroit.
“She said she was going to see her sick daddy, but that’s not a legitimate political expenditure,” Detroit political consultant Adolph Mongo told LeDuff.
“What it is, is a political favor. She asked. She got on their plane. Now she owes them one.”
But perhaps there’s another explanation. What say you, Gov. Whitmer?
— Michigan Rising Action (@MIRisingAction) May 6, 2021
“I’ve said everything I’m going to say about my trip to check on my father. I’ve got nothing to add,” Whitmer said when asked about it at an event on Thursday.
“We don’t discuss my travel. I have received an incredible number of death threats over the last year and a half.”
This is the excuse Whitmer’s team used when she was first caught traveling to Florida. Whitmer’s spokeswoman, Tiffany Brown, said on April 19 she couldn’t give details on the state or the dates of travel because of “ongoing security concerns.”
This should have struck everyone as curious because the trip was in the past, so there wouldn’t be a security concern unless one of Whitmer’s enemies owned a specially modified time-traveling DeLorean.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Whitmer was so concerned about security that while in Florida, according to LeDuff, she notified … not a single Florida official or law enforcement bureau after her arrival. Doing so is standard operating procedure for most politicians of some stature, especially those who “have received an incredible number of death threats.” But no.
Brown went on to claim “[t]he governor did not go on spring break, and she has not left the state in over a month.
“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.
“All trips were very brief, two full days or less, closely followed public health guidelines, and were made when Michigan’s daily positivity rate was in the low single digits.”
It wasn’t just “two full days or less,” of course, and LeDuff cited a report that he said showed her father “appears to have made a miraculous comeback.
“Great Lakes News, a website that is often critical of Whitmer, and is also a statewide radio network with 35-plus affiliates, reported last week that her father was seen in the parking lot of a Lansing-area mall, getting into a brand new Tesla,” LeDuff wrote reported.
Whatever the case, the hypocrisy is shocking — something the Michigan Republican Party noted.
“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,” said Michigan Republican Party executive director Jason Roe in a statement.
“She ran a campaign based on transparency (her so-called Sunshine Plan) but has been the most opaque governor in Michigan history. I guess by ‘sunshine’ she meant the Sunshine State.”
She did, apparently — and she took one of the priciest ways to get down there imaginable. The question is whether she spent one-quarter of her yearly salary on the flight or whether she received a “gift” from influential Michigan businessmen.
I’m sure it’s not important, though. A governor this transparent would never abuse the trust of her constituents — right?
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