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Michigan Gov. Whitmer defends her Florida trip, calls criticism ‘maddening’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
(Courtesy photo)

June 7: Michigan Republicans seek campaign finance probe of Whitmer trip to Florida
June 2: GOP to governor: Tell us when you leave Michigan. Whitmer: Stop wasting time.
May 27: Whitmer campaign, not shadow nonprofit, now paying for Florida flight
May 14: Records: Shadow nonprofit paid for Whitmer’s Florida flight amid controversy

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended on Tuesday a recent trip she made to Florida when she wasn’t vaccinated, calling the accusations of hypocrisy “maddening.”

In an interview with the Washington Post Live, Whitmer explained she has left the state three times in the last six months, including her trip to visit her father who she said is “battling a chronic illness.”

“He’s a very private person. I feel terrible that I’ve even had to share that much, but it was certainly not spring break,” Whitmer said. “I was doing both my job as governor from a distance, and being that of a daughter who was helping out a parent who needed a little help.”

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Whitmer’s father, Richard Whitmer, is the retired president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. He owns a condominium in West Palm Beach, according to property records. 

Her office has said little about the trip, except confirming that she visited her father, Richard Whitmer, a retired president of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan who owns condominium in West Palm Beach.

The trip, which was made before Whitmer was vaccinated this month, was first reported Monday by MIRS News. 

The Michigan Republican Party came out against the governor almost immediately, issuing a statement on Monday night and holding a press conference on Tuesday morning. 

Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, told reporters he didn’t have a problem with the governor visiting her father, but noted that she seemed to contradict her own travel advisories.

“If you or I did those same exact actions, this governor would scold you and say that you are the problem,” Johnson said. “The issue here today is the gross hypocrisy that comes from this administration.”

But Whitmer pushed back. She said those criticizing her are scoring political points.

“It’s maddening, because a lot of these same people would accuse me of not having family values if I didn’t show up when a family member needed some help, right?” Whitmer said during the Washington Post Live interview. 

“A two-day trip. I wasn’t out partying in Miami. It’s a very different situation than what they’re portraying.”

This is the latest travel-related controversy the Whitmer administration has faced in the last few weeks. 

Whitmer defended two administration officials — Chief Operating Officer Tricia Foster and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Elizabeth Hertel — who recently traveled out of state for leisure while the third wave surged in Michigan. 

Whitmer’s administration has recommended against travel on multiple occasions, most recently during the latest COVID-19 surge. 

On April 5, a health guidance was issued and it recommended residents to “delay travel and stay home” as a means of protection against the virus.

Whitmer’s staff has not said when she visited her father, but noted it was before the most recent surge of cases, when positivity rates were in the single digits.

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