The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Michigan State Legislature may launch separate investigations into Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s private flight to Florida in March.
Whitmer took a charter flight, almost entirely paid for by a nonprofit, to Florida in March to visit her ailing father weeks before warning Michigan residents about traveling to the southern state. Republican state Rep. Steve Johnson, chairman of the Michigan House Oversight Committee, said Monday he is considering an investigation into how Whitmer’s charter flight was paid for.
Johnson is considering drafting a letter full of questions to the Whitmer administration and, based on the response, will decide his course of action.
“If they refuse to [answer the questions], maybe, at that point, we will do hearings. It’s definitely something in consideration,” Johnson said, according to The Detroit News. “I would like to give the administration the opportunity to answer questions before we go down that road.”
The FAA is considering a probe into Whitmer’s flight for a different reason. The company she chartered her flight through, Detroit-based Air Eagle, does not have certification to be chartering flights. The FAA noted that it’s to early “to conclude that a violation of federal aviation regulations occurred” in a Monday statement.
“The FAA is looking into the matter,” the FAA said.
Whitmer’s flight was paid for almost entirely by the nonprofit Michigan Transition 2019. According to The Detroit News: “The group spent $27,521 on travel over the first 14 days of May, according to a voluntary disclosure, which apparently covers the March flights, two months earlier. The same disclosure shows Whitmer paid the nonprofit $855 for her seat on the flights — 3% of the total price tag for the flights.”
Whitmer stayed in Florida from March 12 through March 15, ostensibly to visit her father who suffers from chronic illness. She took the trip as a new variant of COVID-19 was beginning to spread in the state, and warned Michigan residents about traveling to Florida early the next month because of it.
“Due to ongoing security and public health concerns, we made a decision to use a chartered flight for this trip,” the governor’s chief of staff, JoAnne Huls, wrote in a memo explaining the trip. “The governor’s flight was not a gift, not paid for at taxpayer expense and was done in compliance with the law.”
Whitmer, who oversaw heavy-handed lockdown measures and restrictions over her state, has continued to experience blowback from her trip out-of-state. On Wednesday, Republican state Sen. Tom Barrett is expected to introduce legislation that would force Whitmer to notify the legislature any time she travels out of Michigan.
“What happens if the governor has left, decides not to tell anybody and we have a real emergency arise?” Barrett asked. “We just need to know who is fulfilling the role of governor of the state at any given time.”