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Whitmer defends secret payout to former health director as Michigan GOP demands details

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended her administration’s controversial payouts to three departing state officials that have Republicans in the state demanding details and eyeing subpoenas.

Whitmer, a Democrat, was asked about the agreements during a press conference on Tuesday, where she defended the “separation agreements” by saying they are “used often” both in business and the public sector when an organizational leader leaves their post.

“And, due to the nature of the agreement, there’s not a lot more that I can say on the subject,” the Wolverine State governor said.

The Michigan governor was pressed on whether the deals amount “hush money,” as alleged by state Republicans.

“I really bristle at that characterization,” Whitmer responded. “The nature of the separation agreement is that when someone leaves, there are terms to it and you cannot share every term to it. That’s simply what it is.”

Whitmer’s did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment on the exchange.

Michigan GOP communications director Ted Goodman blasted Whitmer on Wednesday, claiming she appeared to be “buying the silence” of top state health officials amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appears to be buying the silence of high-level government employees during the greatest public health crisis of our time,” Goodman said in a statement released to Fox News.

“If there’s nothing to hide, the governor and these former employees should provide details surrounding these payoffs and confidentiality agreements.”

“Michiganders deserve to know,” he added.

The scrutiny comes following revelations that former Michigan Department of Health Director Robert Gordon and Whitmer had quietly reached a secret separation agreement that netted a $155,506 payout for Gordon.

MICHIGAN GOV. WHITMER THREATENED WITH SUBPOENA OVER SECRET PAYOUT TO HEALTH DIRECTOR

Since then, two more confidential deals between Whitmer’s administration and other departing state officials have surfaceed. Former Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Steven Gray took home almost $86,000. Gray’s deal contained a confidentiality agreement similar to Gordon’s.

Gordon’s deputy director, Sarah Esty, also took a separation deal with the state that included four weeks of “paid administrative leave.” The agreement did not say how much Esty would be paid, but four weeks of paid leave at her salary would reportedly equate to around $11,000.

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Whitmer is also facing scrutiny for her handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Michigan governor on Tuesday was threatened with a subpoena by state GOP lawmakers who accused the governor of having “bought the silence” of her former employees.

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