A Republican member of the state House of Representatives is calling for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to reveal to the public the agreement it had with former director Robert Gordon, who abruptly resigned on February 22.
“I am calling on the Department today to release to the public the separation agreement between Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer’s administration and former MDHHS Director Robert Gordon as well as any other similar agreements made with other public officials,” state Rep. Steve Johnson (R-MI-72) said in Tuesday letter to MDHHS.
The release comes on the heels of reports that Gordon received $155,506 from the agency that also required both sides to keep confidential the reason for his departure.
“Both Gordon and the Whitmer administration also pledged not to discuss the details of the resignation ‘in the interest of protecting deliberations among government officials,’ according to the deal obtained through an open records request,” Detroit News said.
The agreement reportedly says that, “[i]n response to any inquiries from prospective employers, employer will state that employee voluntarily resigned.”
Johnson is unsatisfied with this arrangement.
“In light of the recent details of the separation agreement which included a cash bonus to preserve confidentiality, I believe it is only right for the public to know what that agreement included which ultimately led to Robert Gordon’s abrupt departure earlier this year,” Johnson’s letter said.
Johnson is the chair of the House Oversight Committee.
“I have asked the Department to testify and answer questions on numerous occasions regarding policy decisions that have greatly affected our state,” the letter continued. “There has been a blatant lack of transparency as the Department has denied my invitation on multiple fronts.”
Johnson said that last week he requested COVID-19 nursing home death data from the MDHHS, and that they never responded. He said he has not seen evidence that the data even exists. The request for that information came while Whitmer, a Democrat, came under fire for the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in Michigan, which reportedly make up more than one third of the state’s total deaths.
“I believe accountability and transparency should be heavily present in our government and that is why I am requesting the department take immediate action to release the separation agreement as previously mentioned,” Johnson’s letter finished.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Michigan Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Michigan House Floor” by Steve and Christine. CC BY 2.0.