A spokesman for Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer confirmed in April that Whitmer flew to Florida while instructing Michiganders to stay home while under COVID-19 lockdown orders. Now, a new report indicates Whitmer contacted wealthy Detroit businessmen to lend a private plane.
Spokesman Bobby Leddy said the governor traveled on three occasions to Florida to visit her elderly father. The governor’s office claimed taxpayer money was not used for travel. Deadline Detroit reports Whitmer avoided a private plane fee in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 by asking billionaires to provide a charter. The jet she took would have allegedly ran her a fee of $40,000, an estimated 25 percent of Whitmer’s salary before taxes.
“We wondered why she reached out to us instead of booking a private charter,” one of the owners of the plane said. “You can’t tell a governor no. Who needs that kind of trouble?”
The governor was asked about the report Thursday and declined to provide information as to whether she reimbursed the Detroit businessmen.
“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.”
While Whitmer released vaccine benchmarks and encouraged residents to get shots, she was not vaccinated upon traveling to Florida for four days. The jet she flew on, a Gulfstream G-280 twin, took her from Lansing, Michigan to West Palm Beach, Florida. Two weeks after getting back from her trip, Whitmer made a point to tell Michiganders to stay home.
“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says a factor in Michigan’s surging COVID-19 cases is fewer people were infected earlier in the pandemic than in other states. She also is concerned about spring break travel, particularly to Florida,” the Associated Press reported on April 3.
Then, appearing on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” on April 19, Whitmer said people should avoid travel.
“Michigan and Florida are not next to each other,” she said. “But this is the time of the year that snowbirds come home from Florida, where people are going on spring break, and all of these things can contribute to spread. We’re imploring people to take this seriously, mask up, get tested. If you’ve been around someone who’s positive, stay home.”
Whitmer’s administration refuses to provide details of her Florida trip due to “ongoing security concerns.” Jason Roe, executive director of the Michigan GOP, said in a statement that Whitmer “has been the most opaque governor in Michigan history.”
“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,” Roe said.
Whitmer’s office did not respond to a request for comment.