Whitmer’s Florida hypocrisy
Hypocrisy in Lansing is nothing new, but recent unforced errors by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other ruling-class Democrats have reached new levels.
First, it was Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein. The uber liberal — nominated by Democrats but officially elected as a nonpartisan, as if such a creature exists — spent months living in Dubai before moving to Israel. He also just happened to get vaccinated in Dubai, raising questions about whether he fled Michigan to skip the line and get jabbed ahead of others back home.
Defending himself, Bernstein says he has been working remotely through virtual court sessions. The ambulance chaser-turned-justice also claims he has been working for a foreign foundation promoting understanding between Jews and Muslims under the Abraham Accords. While laudable (if true), that’s not his job.
Ignoring questions about improper foreign influence and compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, if he wants to be a cultural ambassador, then he should resign from the high court. Moreover, he may have vacated his office the moment he left the Wolverine State — just as the governor loses her power when she leaves the state — as the Michigan Constitution doesn’t allow a justice to rule on cases from outside the U.S.
As if the bizarre Bernstein scandal wasn’t bad enough, it gets worse.
The director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Hertel, and Tricia Foster, Whitmer’s chief operating officer, violated both the letter and spirit of state guidance by vacationing in Alabama and Florida, respectively, as coronavirus cases surged back home. In Hertel’s case, the hypocrisy is more egregious, since her name is on public-health orders combatting the pandemic.
Last but not least is the governor herself.
Whitmer also went to Florida — the state despised by the left for the remarkable way in which its governor, Ron DeSantis, has handled things — around the peak of spring break. Purportedly, she was there to see her father, who has an undisclosed “chronic illness,” according to a spokeswoman for Whitmer.
Ignoring the horrible optics of Whitmer’s trip, there are questions about who knew what and when.
As stated earlier in this column, the governor is no longer governor when outside Michigan.
Normally, the lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist, assumes the Office of Governor on an acting basis until Whitmer returns.
Did Gilchrist know he was acting governor? Were others in the line of succession informed and told to remain within the state in the event that something happened to Gilchrist? Were staff in the executive office or state department and agency heads told to report to the acting governor? Did armed Michigan State Police troopers travel to Florida with Whitmer? Did Gilchrist receive a State Police detail? How did the governor get to Florida? Who paid?
Those are just some of the logical questions that deserve answers.
Democrats in Lansing constantly preach transparency in government, but nobody knew Whitmer fled the state for Florida until the Michigan Information Research Service, a Lansing-based news site, first reported it.
That is beyond unacceptable. Michiganders have a right to know who is running the state.
Dennis Lennox is a political commentator and public affairs consultant. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.