Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer acknowledged Tuesday that her husband dropped her name while requesting to get their boat in the water ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, though claimed her husband’s comments were a “failed attempt at humor.”
Whitmer’s comments came after her office initially pushed back against the story, saying they’re “not going to make it a practice of addressing every rumor that is spread online.” A Michigan GOP state senator also said her office had originally “adamantly denied” the claim that Whitmer’s husband tried to use her position to convince a dock company to quickly get the family’s boat on the water amid the coronavirus lockdowns.
However, during a press conference, Whitmer essentially confirmed the reported conversation happened, even though she claimed the comments were made in jest.
“My husband made a failed attempt at humor last week when checking in with a small business that helps with our boat and dock up north,” Whitmer said at a press conference Tuesday. “Knowing it wouldn’t make a difference, he jokingly asked if being married to me might move him up in the queue. Obviously with the motorized boating prohibition in our early days of COVID-19, he thought it might get a laugh. It didn’t.”
Whitmer further sought to distance herself from her husband’s remarks: “To be honest, I wasn’t laughing either when it was relayed to me. Because I knew how it would be perceived. He regrets it. I wish it wouldn’t have happened. And that’s really all we have to say about it,” she continued.
Whitmer, who recently confirmed she’s been in talks with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden campaign about being chosen as his running mate, famously imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the country, sparking frequent protests. What’s more, she’s told people not living in Northern Michigan, the only region in the state where the lockdown has been lifted, to stay away from vacation spots there during the holiday weekend.
But in Facebook posts by NorthShore Dock LLC, its owner, Tad Dowker, described a request from Whitmer’s husband, Marc Mallory.
“This morning, I was out working when the office called me, there was a gentleman on hold who wanted his boat in the water before the weekend,” Dowker posted, The Detroit News reported. “Being Memorial weekend and the fact that we started working three weeks late means there is no chance this is going to happen.”
He continued, “Our office personnel had explained this to the man and he replied, ‘I am the husband to the governor, will this make a difference?'” The docking company later noted that Mallory respectfully accepted that the accommodation would not be possible.
Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown refused to comment on the matter on Monday, saying the administration wouldn’t address “every rumor that is spread online.”
She said in a statement: “Our practice is not to discuss the governor’s or her family’s personal calendar/schedules. And we’re not going to make it a practice of addressing every rumor that is spread online. There’s been a lot of wild misinformation spreading online attacking the governor and her family, and the threats of violence against her personally are downright dangerous.”
Last Monday, Whitmer announced restrictions would be lifted in some regions of Northern Michigan, but urged those who didn’t live in the region to stay away. “If you don’t live in these regions… think long and hard before you take a trip into them,” she said. “A small spike could put the hospital system in dire straits pretty quickly. That’s precisely why we’re asking everyone to continue doing their part. Don’t descend on [waterfront] Traverse City from all regions of the state.”
The vacation property Whitmer and her husband have owned is about 25 minutes from Traverse City, according to The Detroit News, but the family permanently resides in Lansing, over 150 miles away.
After calling out Whitmer over the weekend, Michigan GOP state Sen. Tom Barrett claimed Tuesday Whitmer and her staff “duped” him “into a cover-up” after the governor’s office “adamantly denied” the story.
Barrett said that he composed a Facebook post blowing the whistle on the situation on Friday after checking into the veracity of the story shared by Dowker.
But late Friday night, Barrett says, a representative from the governor’s office called the Michigan Senate Majority Leader’s office to pressure him into taking down the post — saying that the story was incorrect.
“I had posted this thing and had about 500 shares already on Facebook in a few hours,” Barrett said. Then the governor’s office contacted Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, a Republican, to reach out to Barrett to remove the post about Whitmer’s husband.
“They were specifically requesting … that my posts be taken down because they were insisting that wasn’t true,” Barrett told Fox News. “They insisted that it was a fabricated story.”
Republican Michigan state Rep. Matt Hall, the chairman of the state’s House Oversight Committee, told Fox News Monday that the Whitmer boat issue is not a top priority for his committee. Hall said that he is more focused on Whitmer’s “bungled” disaster declaration with the Trump administration, and other apparent missteps in her response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I would say it’s not a top priority for me because it’s still kind of in the beginning phases,” Hall said. “And what I’m really focused on is, number one, the unemployment issue in Michigan.”
State Rep. Triston Cole, the GOP lawmaker whose district includes the boat storage facility and Whitmer’s cottage, said there’s a lot of frustration in northern Michigan because stay-home orders have meant marina facilities have a huge backlog of getting boats out of storage. Some families are worried they may not get their boats in the water at all this summer and for the governor’s husband to allegedly try to pull rank has added to the frustration, Cole said.
“The line is absolutely exponentially long because of…his wife,” Cole told Fox News, citing the stay-home orders that didn’t allow for marina facilities to prepare for the summer rush. “I wish that the governor or the governor’s husband would just issue an apology and clear this up. And we can continue to move forward reopening our state … Oftentimes the cover-up is by far worse than what actually happened.”
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.
Author: Morgan Phillips