News Story

Whitmer's Defense of Husband Conflicts With Her Own Lockdown Orders

Is raking leaves 184 miles away considered 'critical'?

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s response to questions about her husband’s actions while state residents were under her orders to stay home have generated news stories nationwide.

But in one instance, Whitmer’s comments regarding her husband, Marc Mallory, suggest that the governor may not fully appreciate the extent to which her stay-at-home orders impact everyday life.

Whitmer said at a May 26 press conference that her husband had traveled north from the state capital to the family’s cottage in Elk Rapids to rake leaves.

It is 184 miles from Lansing to Elk Rapids, just over a three-hour drive.

At the press conference, Whitmer noted that such travel between different residences owned by the same individual is allowed.

But a state webpage discourages long-distance travel for activities not deemed “critical.” The page, which contains a list of frequently asked questions about the state’s epidemic response guidelines, is meant to clarify their many and sometimes confusing provisions.

The response to one question that was updated April 1 stated, “Are family picnics allowed on state forest lands?”

The answer given states: “Visitors should not travel long distances, unless it is for a purpose considered critical under the governor’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ Executive Order. This type of nonessential travel could unintentionally increase the spread of COVID-19.”

Another question asked, “Are off-road vehicle and all-terrain vehicle trails still open?” The response included this: “Long distance travel is discouraged unless considered critical.”

Another question that was updated April 13 read, “How far can I travel to go fishing?” The text continued, “Long distance travel is discouraged unless it is for a purpose considered critical under the governor’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ Executive Order.”

And one question updated April 14, asked, “Is the spring turkey hunt still occurring, and how can I hunt if my kill tag is for a unit that is far from my home?”

The response: “However, due to the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ Executive Order, people should hunt close to home. This means that some of you may have turkey tags for areas that you won’t be traveling to this spring.”

Whitmer addressed the controversy about Mallory’s trip at the May 26 press conference.

The governor was asked, “Governor, I know you did just address some of the rumors that were surfacing the Internet. When you opened regions six and eight you advised people not to rush up there and overwhelm the area. Just moments ago you mentioned that your family has been staying home for the past several weeks, but there were some reports that you did spend time up north. Are those reports true?”

Whitmer responded, “So as you know, a few weeks ago we dropped the travel ban so that if people had a second residence it was permitted to go to a second residence. My husband did go up to our place in Antrim County and raked some leaves and came home. So he was there. We did not all pile in the car to go enjoy our second home, although that would have been permitted if we had. But the fact of the matter is he was there briefly for a night, I think, one or two nights, and came right back home after he raked our leaves.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.