Report: Gretchen Whitmer Pays $86,000 to Buy Unemployment Director’s Silence

In this file photo, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (L) introduces Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks about health care at Beech Woods Recreation Center October 16, 2020 in Southfield, Michigan. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A third high-ranking Michigan official has been paid off in exchange for resigning and signing a confidentiality clause, a report revealed.

Michigan’s former Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Steve Gray was paid $85,872 in a separation agreement signed in November 2020, M Live reported.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was asked if any of these separation agreements constitute “hush money.”

“I really bristle at that characterization,” Whitmer said. “There are terms to it, and you can’t share every term to it.”

Under the agreement, he agreed to resign and “release all claims” against the state in a confidentiality clause.

Gray’s severance pay represents pay from November 6, 2020, to June 1, 2021.

“Both parties agree that they will not make any statements or take any action disparaging the reputation of the other, whether written or oral,” the separation agreement states, in addition to the confidentiality clause.

The agreement is similar to another where former State Health Department Director Robert Gordon was paid $150,000 in exchange for signing a confidentiality agreement requiring him to stay quiet about his abrupt departure.

Another high-ranking official, Sarah Etsy, was paid $12,000 in her separation agreement in January. Etsy worked as the senior deputy director for policy and planning administration for Michigan’s department of health and human services.

Whitmer claimed there were no improprieties against Gordon when he left, even when she quickly appointed Elizabeth Hertel to take his place.

Republicans, who were concerned about these separation agreements, met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the agreements. Michigan House Republicans are currently mulling over subpoenaing Gordon to get a better understanding of the agreement.

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