News Story

Whitmer Skirted Her Own Executive Orders Twice Before Blowing Them Up

Nothing ambiguous or confusing in executive order against joining crowds in public

On May 1, 2020, Gretchen Whitmer appeared on the cover of Newsweek.

The national magazine’s headline was, “Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Strict New Social Distancing Rules May Save Lives But At a High Political Price.”

Little more than a month later, Whitmer again made national news. This time, it was for violating those social distancing rules by participating in a George Floyd demonstration. Whitmer posted a photo of herself walking in close proximity with other protesters on the Governor's Facebook page.

This was not the first time that Whitmer has been accused of being a scofflaw when it came to her own executive orders.

In the first 90 days of the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency, Whitmer issued 113 executive orders. Many were so detailed, complex or ambiguous that they required clarification through an ever-growing Frequently Asked Question web page.

That ambiguity apparently generated confusion in Whitmer’s own household, leading to an accusation that the governor or at least someone in her family had went against a recommendation in one of her orders.

In a number of places, the executive orders stated that long-distance travel was discouraged. In an April 24 press release about one order, the governor’s office said: “It will also permit individuals to travel between their residences, though such travel during the epidemic is strongly discouraged.”

Yet, Whitmer later admitted that her husband traveled 184 miles one way to a second home so he could rake leaves.

Though she did talk about that, Whitmer never addressed another time she was accused of breaking an executive order.

Brandon Hall, the author of conservative website West Michigan Politics, wrote that he filed a complaint with the state Attorney General. The complaint involved the act of making a custom T-shirt that Whitmer wore in public, which referenced a comment made by President Donald Trump.

Responding to public criticism from the governor, Trump called Whitmer “that woman from Michigan,” which was first reported in a tweet on March 27. This came on a Friday, three days after Whitmer issued an executive order that shuttered all businesses not deemed essential.

On April 1, five days that tweet appeared, Whitmer appeared on the Comedy Central TV program, The Daily Show, wearing the T-shirt with the words, “that woman from Michigan.”

The T-shirt was made by Outdoor Beerdsman, according to MLive.

Hall wondered how a T-shirt company could be considered an essential business that is “necessary to sustain or protect life.”

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.