News Story

Report: Whitmer’s allies target opponents of Marshall battery plant

One resident told the Freep he received photos of himself and his wife, with their faces crossed out

The proposed BlueOval Battery Park project in Marshall has undergone congressional scrutiny for possible national security implications, but it also faces local opposition. On Thursday a Detroit Free Press report found that an advocacy group connected to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is behind robocalls and mailings to area residents who oppose the project, urging them to drop the matter.

“THE BOTTOM-LINE: DON’T SIGN THE PETITION!” read one of the mailings, original punctuation intact.

The BlueOval Battery Park is a collaboration of Ford and CATL, a Chinese firm, to make batteries for electric vehicles. The chairs of three congressional committees have sent letters to Ford CEO Jim Farley, asking for details of the arrangement.

A Battle Creek man, Rick Sadler, told Freep reporter Dave Boucher that he received a mailing that had a picture of him and his wife participating in a protest. Their faces were crossed out in red marker.

The mailing was sent by a group called Marshall Citizens for Jobs and Opportunity. Three other groups carried out various efforts as well, the Freep reported.

“[A] Detroit Free Press investigation revealed connections to Democratic influencers, including Whitmer’s campaign lawyer and his colleague, both of whom repeatedly represented the governor on controversial election issues in the past,” Boucher wrote.

“In addition, a robocall effort blasting opponents of the Marshall site included a phone number used by Whitmer’s reelection campaign, which still appeared on her political website as of publication of this report,” he added.

While Ford disavowed any role in the pressure campaign, the governor’s team did not deny the story.

“Whitmer spokeswoman Stacey LaRouche last week would not say whether the governor or her campaign was involved with the dark money groups or advertisements, or explain how the governor’s campaign phone number was used in a robocall,” Boucher wrote.

Nick Pigeon, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, told the Freep that any connection involving the governor’s campaign was alarming.

“There are too many connections to Democratic insiders to ignore in this case but the degrees of separation campaign finance law allows obscures the true picture,” Pigeon told Boucher.

Read the report for yourself here.

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.