Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) got some bad news this week as the Michigan House of Representatives made moves to subpoena her former health director Robert Gordon after she secured a confidentiality agreement banning him from commenting on his official tenure in any way.
State Rep. Steve Johnson (R), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, House Resolution 60 on Thursday. This resolution would give him the power to subpoena Gordon, who he had previously invited to appear voluntarily. Gordon declined this invitation.
That same day, Whitmer and Gordon announced that he had been released from his confidentiality agreement.
“Due to weeks of public pressure, Governor Whitmer and former Director Gordon announced that they are waiving the confidentiality portion of their separation agreement,” Johnson said in a statement. “Yet, we received a letter from Gordon this morning stating that he will not testify before our committee and failed to answer our questions.”
“On occasion, there were robust conversations about policy issues where reasonable people could disagree and did. This was healthy: The stakes were life and death, and different people have different roles,” Gordon wrote in the letter, according to The Detroit Free Press.
Gordon went on to say that he meant for his letter to take the place of his testimony before the committee.
“What is the point of removing the confidentiality section of the agreement if you still refuse to testify?” he said. “This is a disingenuous head fake at transparency and the House Oversight Committee is committed to holding public officials accountable.”
Two months ago, Gordon suddenly resigned from leading the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and Whitmer refused to give any details as to why he did this on several occasions. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Gordon had secured a $155,000 settlement that Republicans deemed to be “hush money.”
“The public deserves to know what happened between the governor and MDHHS that led to Robert Gordon’s abrupt resignation,” Johnson said in his statement.
“Transparency surrounding issues that led to the resignation of the public health department director in the middle of a health pandemic should be of the utmost importance,” he continued, going on to say that the committee “will continue to take the legal steps necessary to hear from former Director Gordon.”