(FiveNation.com)- Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer could soon find herself in a lot of trouble.
A lawsuit has been filed against the state of Michigan, in which the plaintiffs are seeking information on the governor’s executive order regarding nursing home residents during the pandemic.
The plaintiffs, Charlie LeDuff and Steve Delie, said Whitmer could soon face the same scrutiny that one of her fellow Democrats, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is facing for similar reasons.
On Friday, the two plaintiffs laid out the purpose of their suit for USA Today. LeDuff is a journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize, and Delie works as an official with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
In the article, they wrote:
“It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to obtain this critical data. Governor Whitmer made the same policy choice as Governor Cuomo, forcing contagious senior citizens into close proximity with other medically vulnerable people. In fact, her policy, a similar version of which is still in effect today, went even farther, forcing some non-senior patients into nursing homes, including a 20-year-old.
“Michigan citizens deserve to know why she did this, and whether our governor is telling the truth about the consequences.”
According to the plaintiffs, Whitmer’s executive order of April 15, 2020, was issue on a few weeks after Cuomo’s similar order was issued on March 25, 2020, in New York.
Recent disclosures in New York show that the Cuomo administration underreported deaths of nursing home patients in New York as the coronavirus spread throughout the state. The Associated Press reported that patient numbers were underreported by more than 40%, while deaths were underreported by more than 75%.
Under Michigan law, the plaintiffs note that Whitmer has one advantage — she can be legally exempt from Freedom of Information laws. They write:
“Thanks to this exemption, the governor has no obligation to produce any records whatsoever, despite making decisions affecting the lives of every Michigander.”
They say that Whitmer used this exemption to “act with impunity,” and wasn’t required to provide any data to back up her policy decisions while the pandemic raged on. The plaintiffs called this situation “unacceptable.”
Michigan and Massachusetts are the only two states that have an exemption for governors from the Freedom of Information Act.
The plaintiffs’ claims aren’t just conjecture, either. Earlier in March, Dana Nessel, the Democratic attorney general of Michigan, denied a request made by state Republicans to investigate the nursing home actions of Whitmer. She said the probe wasn’t necessary “at this time.”
In a letter written to the Republicans on March 15, Nessel wrote:
“I appreciate that you and your colleagues have policy disagreements with Governor Whitmer’s response to COVID-19. But an investigation by my office is not the mechanism to resolve those disagreements.”
Republicans in Michigan have heavily criticized Whitmer for her decision to allow residents of nursing homes who were recovering from coronavirus to return to their nursing homes or gain admittance to new ones. They say this move put many other residents of the nursing home at severe risk.