Michigan's GOP Senate spent $373K on separation deals, one requiring silence

March 10, 2021, 8:31 AM by  Violet Ikonomova

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey

After Republican lawmakers spent the past week going after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for giving large payouts with nondisclosure provisions to outgoing officials, the GOP-controlled Senate has its own 'splaining to do.

New disclosures by the The Detroit News show the government body has spent $373,000 in taxpayer money on 20 separation agreements in the past five years, one of which included a non-disparagement clause and a provision that required the deal be kept secret.

Whitmer has come under fire in recent weeks for giving payouts to several departing officials who were barred from discussing their employment, including $155,000 to former health department head Robert Gordon, who resigned abruptly this winter without publicly providing a reason.

Whitmer's office did not immediately provide information surrounding those deals when asked by reporters, and instead had them file Freedom of Information Act requests, which can lead to weekslong delays in obtaining information.

Similarly, the Senate, controlled by Mike Shirkey of Clarklake, was less than forthcoming. Its business office did not reveal who received the deals, or even who they worked for or which party they belonged to. 

Shirkey claimed the office provided "as much information as the terms of the agreements allow."

The GOP-controlled House, meanwhile, issued just one $25,000 separation payout in the last five years. It did not include any silencing provisions.

Read more:  The Detroit News

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