After a Tuesday Breitbart News report exposing the partisan connections of a firm contracted to collect sensitive personal information from coronavirus patients, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) canceled the agreement.
On Monday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a release:
As part of efforts to continue expanding COVID-19 testing and contact tracing of potentially exposed Michiganders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) again expanded its testing criteria to include all essential workers still reporting to work in person, whether they have symptoms or not, and launched a large-scale effort with more than 2,000 volunteers to expand contact tracing capacity. …
Contact tracing is a proven public health strategy that involves identifying those affected by COVID-19 and interviewing friends, families and others near that person about their contacts and symptoms. MDHHS is contracting with Great Lakes Community Engagement, a firm that specializes in outreach campaigns to engage citizens, and Every Action VAN, a voter/individual contact platform used by non-profits, to provide software to help organize remote phone banking and track information and contacts.
“Great Lakes Community Engagement” is an entity linked to Mike Kolehouse, a Democrat political consultant.
Tuesday afternoon, Whitmer canceled the contract, a spokeswoman said.
The Michigan Public Health Institute sign a contract Monday worth up to $194,250 with Grand Rapids firm Great Lakes Community Engagement for management of more than 400 trained volunteers who would have been calling and surveying individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.
“The issue is being corrected and a different vendor and software platform will be selected by the [State Emergency Operations Center],” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said.
Crain’s noted NGP VAN, another vendor awarded a contract, “has been an email services vendor for Whitmer’s re-election campaign, billing the governor’s campaign committee for $4,750 from August through December of 2019.”
Livingston County Commissioner Wes Nakagiri, who had volunteered for the contact tracing program, was the first to discover the connection.
According to Nakagiri’s website:
When performing contact tracing, volunteers are assigned to assist Public Health officials in reaching out to citizens who have come into contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The volunteers make phone calls to convey important instructions to citizens who have a higher likelihood of contracting the coronavirus. Additionally, volunteers could ask personal questions such as: How is your health now? Do you have shortness of breath? Do you have abdominal pain? Can you tell me the names and ages of persons living in your household? What is your email address? The volunteers then log the results of these phone calls into a database ostensibly for use by medical professionals.
“This enables NGP VAN to share this confidential information with both the MDHHS and Democrat candidates,” Nakagiri noted.
“Providing confidential information collected from contact tracing to Democrat candidates is an egregious violation of the public trust.”