Amid growing questions about a March private jet trip to Florida during a COVID-19 surge in her home state, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has been hit with an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) complaint filed by conservative advocacy group Michigan Rising Action, as the Washington Examiner reports.
Whitmer has been on the defensive in recent weeks, attempting to explain the circumstances surrounding her travel to the Sunshine state while simultaneously cautioning Michiganians to avoid similar journeys as case numbers spiked at home, as the Detroit Free Press noted.
Though initially reluctant to disclose much information about the trip, which she said was made to assist her ailing father who lives in Florida, Whitmer eventually stated that a nonprofit entity formed to help fund her 2019 inauguration paid the majority of the $27,521 cost of the private flight and that she personally reimbursed $855 – the supposed cost of a first-class ticket to her destination, according to the Examiner.
Whitmer’s chief of staff, JoAnne Huls, explained earlier this month that “Due to ongoing security and public health concerns, we made a decision to use a chartered flight for this trip. The governor’s flight was not a gift, not paid for at taxpayer expense, and was done in compliance with the law.”
Eric Ventimiglia, executive director of Michigan Rising Action, is not so convinced, however, saying in a press release, “Governor Whitmer’s use of 501(c)(4) funds for personal benefit is a clear violation of the law and we’ve asked the IRS to launch a full investigation into the matter,” adding:
From her blatant hypocrisy to the litany of ethical and legal violations, Governor Whitmer has spent the last two months misleading the people of Michigan about her trip to Florida. It’s time for her to be held accountable.
As Fox News noted, Ted Goodman, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party says that Whitmer’s lack of transparency in the midst of legitimate questions about her travel is “downright insulting” to citizens of her state
Local Detroit area investigative reporter Charlie LeDuff has been in dogged pursuit of the truth about Whitmer’s trip since it first came to light, and he has hinted in recent days that there could be even more nefarious details yet to emerge.
In a recent article for Deadline Detroit, LeDuff implored Whitmer to make even further admissions, saying, “Come clean, Madam Governor. Tell the people who was on that plane with you. Tell them, Madam, or I may have to,” suggesting that despite her office’s claim to the contrary, no official business was taking place en route to Florida, increasing the likelihood that violations of federal tax law will be found.
Given reporting this month that Air Eagle LLC, a company owned by a number of wealthy businessmen whose jet was used to take Whitmer to Florida, is not even licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to charter aircraft for passenger use, the beleaguered governor may have even more explaining to do than initially thought, especially now that there is a whiff of potential bribery in the air.