There has been a lot of talk around Michigan concerning the “hush” money agreements that Governor Whitmer has been giving Department heads when they are let go.  Examples of those are:

  • Robert Gordon, former director of the Department of Health and Human Services received $155,506
  • Steve Gray, former unemployment director received $85,872
  • Jeff Mason, former CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. received $128,500

All three of those above examples include some form of a confidentiality agreement or non-disparagement clause.  Neither side can speak about why they left or what they know or learned about our state government while employed by us.

The Detroit News is reporting that Governor Whitmer signed a directive last Friday that will allow the continuation of these confidentiality/hush money agreements by her office. According to the News under Whitmer’s new directive, “a state department can seek a severance deal with a non-disclosure clause if it maintains "confidentiality regarding an employment decision or dispute."”

Interesting.

In a press release Governor Whitmer said:

"The measures laid out in my executive directive ensure greater accountability and promote transparency...Michiganders should have confidence in the activities of state government, including the expenditure of public funds on separation agreements...I am proud of these measures because they will benefit both state employees and the people of Michigan."

Governor Whitmer, please explain to us exactly how does a non-disclosure clause that maintains "confidentiality regarding an employment decision or dispute” ensures “greater accountability”.  You literally contradicted yourself within your own press release. I would consider letting the people in your communications office that wrote this press release for you go, that means fired or allowed to resign Governor Whitmer.  Also if you were to let them go that would be without a confidentiality agreement or non-disparagement clause.

A Republican Michigan State Representative from Hillsdale Andrew Fink, also, did not think very highly of Whitmer’s directive when he stated:

"It doesn’t change anything...It leaves wide open the option for the governor to do what she’s always done, which as we've seen is silence key players to hide the truth from the public."

Of course, it did not change anything Rep. Fink. That is exactly how she wanted it and most people are unaware of what is occurring in local, state, or federal government and the politicians who want to get away with their hypocrisy know this.

All government data information must be accessible to the people who pay for it.  It is as simple as that.  Whether it is from the Governor’s office, the state legislature or a local government office, all data and information must be accessible.  The only records I would say are not accessible under FOIA laws would be communication between constituents and their representatives.

The Live with Renk show airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts call (269) 441-9595

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