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Michigan House Oversight Chair pushes for subpoena power to get former health director to testify

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Posted at 2:37 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 14:53:58-04

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan House Oversight Chair Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) introduced a resolution to grant his committee the power to subpoena former MDHHS Director Robert Gordon.

The push comes after a confidentiality clause in a $155,000 separation agreement between Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the former health director was waived Wednesday amid public pressure.

READ: Pressure on Whitmer increases under severance agreement details

RELATED: Governor, former MDHHS Director amend severance agreement

Gordon and Whitmer

In a letter to lawmakers, Gordon said he would not testify regarding his departure.

“What is the point of removing the confidentiality section of the agreement if you still refuse to testify? This is a disingenuous head fake at transparency and the House Oversight Committee is committed to holding public officials accountable,” Johnson said.

Johnson hopes a subpoena isn’t necessary and that Gordon will testify voluntarily.

“The public deserves to know what happened between the governor and MDHHS that led to Robert Gordon’s abrupt resignation,” said Johnson. “Transparency surrounding issues that led to the resignation of the public health department director in the middle of a health pandemic should be of the utmost importance. For these reasons, the Oversight Committee will continue to take the legal steps necessary to hear from former Director Gordon.”

READ: Governor signs off on standards for severance deals

Gordon abruptly resigned in January, the day after he issued an order to reopen indoor dining in the state.

WHERE IT BEGAN: MDHHS Director resigns

The governor previously defended the use of separation agreements and commended Gordon on his work, “There were not any improprieties with Director Gordon's work. It's simply that he tendered his resignation, and I accepted it,” Whitmer added.

READ: Full resolution by Rep Steve Johnson