Gretchen Whitmer’s private flights draw attention of Michigan Legislature and FAA

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer‘s use of a private plane to travel out of state in March could soon be facing multiple investigations.

Rep. Steve Johnson, the chairman of the Michigan House Oversight Committee, said there may even need to be an inquiry into the financial arrangements behind Whitmer’s visit to her father, who is reportedly chronically ill, if her administration is not forthcoming should a letter be sent with questions.

“If they refuse to [answer the questions], maybe, at that point, we will do hearings. It’s definitely something in consideration,” the Republican told the Detroit News. “I would like to give the administration the opportunity to answer questions before we go down that road.”

After Whitmer’s chief of staff, JoAnne Huls, said last week the administration used “a chartered flight for this trip,” a Federal Aviation Administration representative said Detroit-based Air Eagle, the company whose plane carried Whitmer to Florida and back, doesn’t hold a certificate authorizing charter-type services.

It’s premature “to conclude that a violation of federal aviation regulations occurred,” a statement from the FAA reportedly said, adding, “The FAA is looking into the matter.”

Representatives for Whitmer, a Democrat, defended the arrangement. Bob Leddy, a spokesman for the governor, told the outlet that Whitmer needed secure transportation, Air Eagle was able to provide it, and the trip costs were covered.

“Due to ongoing security and public health concerns, we made a decision to use a chartered flight for this trip,” Huls wrote in a memo explaining the March trip funded by Michigan Transition 2019, a social welfare nonprofit organization. “The governor’s flight was not a gift, not paid for at taxpayer expense and was done in compliance with the law.”

A financial disclosure released by the administration showed the group spent $27,521 on travel over the first 14 days of May, which apparently covered the March flights leaving and returning to Michigan. Whitmer reportedly paid $855 for her seats on the flights, or 3% of the total price.

Huls said in her Friday memo that the health of Whitmer’s father, Richard, began to deteriorate after she returned to Michigan on March 15. The chief of staff added that on Monday, the governor took her father to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a medical procedure to begin intravenous antibiotics and that it was a success.

Others have raised allegations of wrongdoing against Whitmer and her aides. Reports indicated that multiple aides to the governor, including Elizabeth Hertel, the director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, and Tricia Foster, the governor’s chief operating officer, traveled out of state last month despite April 5 guidelines issued by Hertel warning would-be travelers that “travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19.”

“We recommend that you do not travel at this time,” says the Michigan HHS travel advisory, which remained in effect during both trips. “Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

Representatives for the FAA and Johnson did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s requests for comment.