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Can Gov. Whitmer's campaign fund pay for her flight to Florida? The answer is complicated

Posted at 11:18 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 23:32:39-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — "The Governor is admitting that she did violate the law,” said Republican State Rep. and Chair of the House Oversight Committee Steven Johnson.

RELATED: Gov. Whitmer's campaign will pay for Florida flight to see ailing father

Rep. Johnson says what the governor has done is illegal, but in a letter addressed to him Gov. Whitmer's attorney says it’s not. The real answer of whether Gov. Whitmer’s campaign fund can pay for her flight to Florida isn't so simple.

“From sources, I have spoken with it has really run the gamut, there’s a lot of ambiguity here and a considerable amount of uncertainty," said Simon Schuster, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. "Generally it’s not OK to use campaign funds for personal uses at all, but that said we’re in a somewhat unique situation here because of the situation the Governor herself is in.”

The governor’s attorney says an aide reached out to PVS Chemicals to use their private plane. The extra security measure was the advice of security experts due to threats against the Governor’s life and the foiled plot to kidnap her. In the letter, the attorney says the expense for a private flight was necessary and legal.

“The letter from Gov. Whitmer's attorney relied on actually an interpretive ruling of Michigan’s campaign finance rules that was released just last month that determined politicians can use campaign funds to pay for things like home security systems or bulletproof vests if in the course of their duties as an officeholder they receive violent threats,” Schuster said.

The letter also said the governor will pay for her seat and her daughters' seats on the flight, and that she also used the fund to pay more than $22,000 for a private flight to President Biden’s inauguration.

“It's unfortunate it took our letter to get some of these answers but we’re glad to finally have some more information before us,” Rep. Johnson said.

Rep. Johnson also said the governor didn’t answer if there were other trips, and that the house oversight committee still wants those answers.

"We will continue to evaluate the questions we have, maybe fine-tune them a little bit more and we’ll get those to the administration to get some more clarification as to what exactly happened,” Johnson said. "I think we will be satisfied when we have enough information to ensure that any wrongdoing that happened was fixed and remedied and we know that’s all there is to it.”

“I definitely do not think this is the last we’ve heard of this issue," Schuster said. "I think that its prominence is in part because of all the obfuscation of the Governor and her staff and all the time the mystery was allowed to drag on."

Ltr Rep Johnson05272021 by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd