LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Republican Party is pushing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for answers regarding the departure of former Michigan Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon and his separation agreement.
Gordon resigned in January and received more than $155,000 as part of a separation agreement. Republicans said Tuesday that Gordon's deputy director, Sarah Esty, also received a separation agreement.
The Michigan Republican Party said in a press release that it wants all information related to the deal between Gordon and Whitmer's administration released.
"This confidentiality agreement just adds another wrinkle to the problem," State. Sen Jim Runestad said in a statement. "The administration has not been forthcoming with the data or the information surrounding their COVID policies. The continued secrecy is troubling, and even more reason to investigate the Whitmer administration’s COVID policies."
At a Tuesday press conference in front of the Capitol steps, state Rep. Matt Hall said “All we want is we want her to explain it. Why are you giving these payments to Robert Gordon to silence him?”
State Rep. Steve Johnson is chair of the Michigan House Oversight Committee. He said the committee has asked for details on the Whitmer administration's pandemic response.
“They refused to testify before our committee" he said, and, after giving questions to Whitmer's administration, "almost a week later they have refused to get us those answers."
"Now, last night we find out that our governor has bought the silence of former Director Gordon with $150,000 of taxpayer money," he said.
Johnson said state Republicans are working with legal counsel to determine what options they have available.
"If we have to do a subpoena we will," Johnson said.
Whitmer held a press conference on Tuesday where she announced she will relax COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan and increase capacity for restaurants and businesses.
Asked about Robert Gordon and his deputy director being paid after their resignation, Whitmer said the pandemic has been hard on everyone including those who serve in state and local government. She said she is really proud of the work her administration during this pandemic.
"Separation agreements are used often in the public and private sector when someone in a leadership position leaves an organization. Due to the nature of the agreement, there's not a lot more I can say on this subject. However, I do want to say this. There were not any improprieties with Director Gordan's work. It's simply that he tendered his resignation and I accepted it," Whitmer said.
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