Gov. Whitmer Signs Policies That Allow Severance Deals With Secrecy Clauses To Continue

Governor Whitmer has set new policies regarding severance agreements with departing state employees.

The policies specify that Michigan’s Executive Branch can’t agree to deny the existence of a deal or withhold details.

However, some confidentiality can remain in place.

The measure also allows payments for something other than services rendered if the worker waives potential legal action, and the state determines it will mitigate financial risk and protect taxpayer money.

The executive order allows deals to continue,  but critics have blasted payouts to some top administration officials as ‘hush money,’ including the payment to the former head of MDHHS Robert Gordon. He resigned as the State Health Director abruptly last month, and received a $155,000 severance. Michigan’s former Unemployment Director Steve Gray also received an $85,000 severance in November.

Governor Whitmer says the order’s measures “ensure greater accountability and promote transparency.”

Lawmakers have vowed to try to prohibit similar agreements as they consider spending bills in the coming months.

Tony Daunt, Executive Director of the Michigan Freedom Fund says that Governor Whitmer “brazenly doubled down on secrecy.” He called the order a “direct and arrogant assault on Michiganians’ right to know what their government is doing.”

Under the order, an agreement cannot keep a party from disclosing alleged unlawful activity related to discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment or fraud.