LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign — not a nonprofit fund — will pay for her flights to and from Florida, where she visited her ailing father in March.
The disclosure Thursday came in a letter to a Republican lawmaker who had asked questions about the pandemic trip. A lawyer for the governor’s campaign and the fund said he learned from Detroit-based PVS Chemicals, which supplied the private jet, that it could not accept the $27,521 payment except from a candidate committee because it is not authorized to operate charter flights.
In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Steve Johnson, Christopher Trebilcock said PVS and the fund, Michigan Transition 2019, learned of a “miscommunication” between themselves over the source of payment due to media reports.
He said Whitmer flew private, instead of commercial, for security reasons — citing death threats and noting an alleged plot to kidnap her over her COVID-19 restrictions. Her state security detail accompanied her. Their expenses will be covered by the campaign, lessening the burden on taxpayers, he said.
“But for her elected office, the governor would not have incurred the security expenses for travel to see her ailing father on short notice,” Trebilcock said.
He also disclosed that Whitmer’s two daughters were on the return flight after helping manage their grandfather’s health issues for several weeks while attending college and high school remotely. The governor will reimburse her committee for the cost of a first-class commercial airline ticket for herself and her daughters. Her office had previously said she would pay $855 for her flight.
The business jet is registered to Air Eagle, whose agent is John Nicholson, executive vice president of PVS, according to state records. An aide to Whitmer contacted PVS on or around March 8 to ask if it had a plane to fly her to Florida, according to the letter. She left March 12 and returned March 15.
The campaign also paid $22,670 for the governor’s Jan. 19-21 trip to and from Washington, D.C., for President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trebilcock said. The private plate was operated by New Hudson-based Solomon Plumbing Co.
“We did this to set the record straight and provide answers to Rep. Johnson’s questions,” campaign spokesman Mark Fisk said.
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