Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is facing a massive wave of criticism and calls for investigation over her administration’s policies in releasing COVID-19 patients back to their long-term care facilities or nursing homes without keeping them isolated from others.
Now, critics are demanding a federal investigation into Michigan’s death toll, as well as the discovery of a non-disclosure pact and $155k payout in a separation agreement between the governor’s office and state’s former health director Robert Gordon.
Gordon abruptly resigned in January with a massive payout in exchange for “releasing all claims against” the state, according to the separation agreement. The payout is signed by Gordon and Mark Totten, chief legal counsel for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
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While the health department declined to answer specific questions about the agreement, Whitmer’s press secretary said the confidentiality terms were a release of claims that are “fairly standard practice.” Do all health department directors abruptly resign and get a $155k payout? Whitmer and her office did not even say why he was leaving or thank him for his service during the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Matt Hall, who led a COVID-19 committee last legislative session, questioned Whitmer’s response towards Gordon and asked what the situation actually means for Michigan.
“I was stunned to hear Robert Gordon signed a taxpayer-funded hush-money agreement after his departure from the Whitmer administration. It raises questions about what Gov. Whitmer is trying to keep quiet about her administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hall said.
Whitmer hasn’t released enough information to link returning COVID-19 patients to the high infection rates that hit nursing home communities, but it doesn’t rule out that possibility either. She issued an executive order on April 15th requiring nursing homes to create 21 “dedicated units” for infected residents, but then in late May ordered the facilities to make a “reasonable effort” to isolate them.
Gordon told lawmakers last September that there were many ‘complexities’ involved in setting up different buildings in order to accommodate and handle sick patients, as well as a separate set of adequate staffing and equipment. Isn’t that what the COVID-19 state funding was for?
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, almost 16,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Michigan, including 4,117 nursing home deaths. She followed similar policies to ones ordered in New York by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who Is currently under a federal investigation for underreporting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. One of Cuomo’s top aides “let slip” during a virtual conference that the administration “froze” over how many deaths they actually counted and hid the real numbers in order to avoid scrutiny from the public and former President Donald Trump.
GOP lawmakers have called on Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate Whitmer’s handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic since other states used different approaches with fewer deaths. She declined the request, saying there has been a lack of evidence that any law was violated and that it wasn’t needed “at this time.” “I appreciate that you and your colleagues have policy disagreements with Gov. Whitmer’s response to COVID-19. But an investigation by my office is not the mechanism to resolve those disagreements,” she wrote.
Republican state Sen. Jim Runestad said Nessel is abdicating her responsibilities in refusing to conduct an investigation and pointed out that families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 in nursing homes deserve to get answers.
Dems are getting real good at covering up their coverups. Probably because they don’t have any standards to start with.