Republican group spends $ 500,000 on ads criticizing Whitmer’s Florida trip
A group supported by the Republican Governors Association announced Tuesday that it would spend over half a million dollars on television advertisements criticizing Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her flight to Florida.
“While the Michigandans adhered to Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions, the governor flew through Michigan and jet-setting into the Sunshine State,” said RGA spokesman Chris Gustafson.
“Whitmer’s rampant hypocrisy knows no bounds and leaves Michiganders no choice but to sack the damn governor.”
The ad comes from Get Michigan Working Again, an RGA political action committee. By April, $ 15,000 had been raised, including $ 10,000 from Tesla and $ 5,000 from Perdue Farms
The ad shows a woman named Suzette talking about Whitmer visiting her father, but she wasn’t allowed to see her own father before he died in a nursing home.
When Whitmer traveled to see her father in mid-March, the nursing home visit ban that had existed for most of the pandemic was no longer in effect. The MDHHS recommended, but did not prohibit, travel outside the state.
Related: Whitmer was visiting his father on a trip outside of the state
Whitmer, whose office initially obscured details about the trip, including when it took place, has since spoken out about why she made the trip. She worked there, she said at a press conference on May 12, and cooked and cleaned a lot for her sick father. She found that, going back to her campaign, she had talked about taking care of her mother at the end of her life.
“It’s part of my story. And just to surprise everyone that I had a family member who had a lot of health problems, that I showed up to check in … they obviously don’t care who I am and what I do, ”Whitmer said at the press conference.
She said at the time that the flight was not a gift and was not paid for at the taxpayer’s expense. MIRS News later brought the news that a501 (c) 4 Nonprofit, Michigan Transition 2019 paid $ 27,500 for the charter flight and Whitmer paid $ 855 for her seat on the flight with her personal money.
The Conservative Michigan Rising Action Political Action Committee has filed a complaint with the IRS over the transaction alleging the expenses are a private gain for the governor and are outside of the group’s stated purpose.
There is still no clear leader among the Republican candidates for governorship.
Candidates who have officially announced runs are Austin Chenge, Bob Scott, Ryan D. Kelley, Ralph Rebandt, Garrett Soldano, and Tudor Dixon. There is speculation that other Republicans, such as former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, former Congressional candidate Lena Epstein or former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, could enter the race.
Even with an unexplained field, the high spending indicates a great deal of interest in Michigan in this cycle.
“The RGA is determined to defeat Gretchen Whitmer as one of the most vulnerable Democratic governors running for re-election. We are confident that the Michigan Republicans will nominate a leader who can defeat them next fall, ”said Gustafson.
Simon Schuster, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, said Michigan has not historically been targeted by an outside group for this amount of ad purchases this early in the cycle.
“I think this is really indicative of the political moment we are in. The election campaign times are getting longer,” said Schuster.
The Michigan Democratic Party hit back against the ad in a press release.
“As Michigan reopens, the National Republicans are throwing misleading political ads to distract from their failed response to the fight against COVID-19. This desperate attack on Governor Whitmer does not change the fact that their leadership has saved the lives of countless Michganders, especially our seniors, “said MDP spokeswoman Rodericka Applewhaite.
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