LANSING, Mich. – After the controversy surrounding the abrupt resignation and separation agreement involving former Michigan health chief Robert Gordon, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered changes to the use of these agreements in state government.
Whitmer released an Executive Directive on Friday on how state agencies can end employee contracts.
The directive said state agencies can still enter into agreements with pay-outs -- something the state already does -- and it still allows for confidentiality agreements, unless it would cover up illegal activity.
”I am proud of these measures because they will benefit both state employees and the people of Michigan,” Whitmer said.
The directive comes after weeks of criticism and scrutiny over three separation agreements, including one made after the abrupt resignation of former MDHHS chief Gordon, who was paid $155,000 after he left and agreed to stay silent about his time at his post.
“Just let the taxpayers know we shouldn’t have to read about it in the newspaper or be caught off guard,” said state Rep. Tyrone Carter.
Carter is behind a bill in Lansing that would open up the Governor’s Office to Freedom of Information Requests.
“It’s about the principle of the office, the taxpayers expectations, and it doesn’t change from Republican or Democrat,” Carter said. “It’s that we should be consistent with many other states across the country as well.”
The new Executive Directive is effective immediately, but it does not say anything about working retroactively, leaving Gordon’s agreement the way it is.
The nonprofit Center for Public Integrity gave Michigan a failing grade in it’s 2015 State Integrity investigation. Neither the Legislature nor the Governor’s Office are subject to Freedom of Information Requests.