Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer violated her own executive order on social distancing while participating in a civil rights march with hundreds of demonstrators.
Whitmer’s order, which she signed on Monday, states that participants in public gatherings should remain six feet apart at all times.
“The governor took precautions for engaging in an outdoor activity, including wearing a mask even though it is not required outdoors under the order,” Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown told the Detroit News. Brown said Whitmer did not violate the order, which states “Nothing in this order shall be taken to abridge protections guaranteed by the state or federal constitution,” including the right to protest.
However, an FAQ page on the Michigan state government website states, “Persons may engage in expressive activities protected by the First Amendment within the State of Michigan, but must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the person’s household.”
Whitmer drew national scrutiny in March for imposing some of the strictest lockdown measures in the country, including prohibitions against the purchasing of certain consumer goods in big box stores. In April, Whitmer compared anti-lockdown protesters to Americans who refused to work in factories during the World War II production effort.
Whitmer also faced backlash from constituents after her husband, Marc Mallory, allegedly tried to use her position to coerce a marina worker into putting their boat in the water ahead of Memorial Day weekend, rather than waiting in the queue.
“I am the husband to the governor, will this make a difference?” Mallory asked when Dowker said it wouldn’t be possible to put out the boat by Memorial Day, according to a since-deleted Facebook post by dock owner Todd Dowker.
Whitmer described her husband’s statement as a “failed attempt at humor.”