The private company whose plane ferried Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to Florida — in defiance of her own travel warnings — was not authorized to carry out charter flights, it was revealed Monday.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Elizabeth Isham Cory told the Detroit Free Press that neither Air Eagle LLC nor the Gulfstream jet Whitmer rode in has a Part 135 certificate, which is required by the FAA in order for aircraft owners fly passengers in exchange for money.
“The governor needed secure transportation, the company was able to provide that, and the trip was paid for,” Whitmer spokesman Bobby Leddy told the Free Press in response. Calls to a phone number associated with Air Eagle by the Post went unanswered.
Whitmer, who made her Sunshine State sojourn in March to visit her elderly father, paid $855 out of her pocket to secure a seat on the flight, according to a memo from her chief of staff that was released to the media Friday. The full cost of $27,521 was covered by Michigan Transition 2019, a nonprofit that was originally formed to help pay for Whitmer’s inauguration.
In the memo, Whitmer Chief of Staff JoAnne Huls claimed the decision for the governor to travel by charter was made due to “ongoing security and public health concerns.”
“The governor’s flight was not a gift, not paid for at taxpayer expense and was done in compliance with the law,” Huls added.
Whitmer’s trip to Florida was first reported last month, days after she said Michiganders returning from spring break or winter homes should spend at least a week working and attending school virtually due to a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the state.
In the same month, two members of Whitmer’s staff, including the head of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, made spring break trips in apparent defiance the governor’s warning.
Michigan Republicans have accused Whitmer of hypocrisy while traveling to see her father while discouraging others from doing the same, with party spokesman Ted Goodman calling news of her trip “an insult to every single Michigander impacted by her lockdown orders and travel warnings.”
“It is a two-day trip,” Whitmer responded at the time. “I wasn’t partying in Miami.”