LANSING, MI – While Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) rules from on high about what residents of her state can and cannot do, an investigation has been initiated into a canceled contract for managing that state’s contact tracing program.
The contract was initiated by Whitmer’s administration and would have paid a Democrat operative’s consulting firm to recruit 400 volunteers in order to collect medical information from state residents, according to Breitbart News.
NEW: Newly obtained emails reportedly show that Michigan @GovWhitmer’s office gave the “green light” for a COVID-19 contact tracing “arrangement,”
Despite the fact that she denied knowledge of the contract & then canceled it following immense backlash.https://t.co/18kMbCgFf8
— Americans for Public Trust (@apublictrust) May 27, 2020
According to Breitbart, the contract was signed on April 20 of this year between Michigan Public Health Institute and Great Lakes Community Engagement, a nonprofit group that is run by Mike Kolehouse, a Democrat campaign consultant.
According to an email released Tuesday, Whitmer’s administration gave the go-ahead to hire the firm, according to Bridge Magazine.
“We got the green light from EOG (the executive office of the governor) to move forward with a slightly different organizational arrangement of the contact tracing volunteer work,” according to Andrea Taverna, a senior adviser at the Department of Health and Human services, in an email to other health department officials.
“This would still be working with Mike Kolehouse, so work there isn’t lost—it’s just organized somewhat differently,” she wrote.
Sgt. Schultz from the ‘60’s television program used to say, “I know nothing!” Whitmer must have been a fan because that’s pretty much what she said. She tried to distance herself from the deal.
“When it was brought to my attention, I told them to cancel it, she said in an April 22 press conference.
Of course, she also denied any political malfeasance, saying that the DHHS:
“…does not have a political bone in their theoretical body. This was an unnecessary distraction. Leadership is about solving problems. The correct process was not followed.”
It has not been explained exactly how Kolehouse became involved, however his long history of working exclusively with Democrat campaigns and progressive causes has certainly raised eyebrows.
The agreement was signed by the finance and budget manager at the Michigan Public Health Institute, Janice Kidd. She refused to respond to a request from Breitbart about who authorized her to sign the document. What is the saying, it’s not the crime it’s the cover up?
Now, according to the Detroit News, an investigation is being launched to look into the deal, quoting Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who said that her office is investigating the canceled state contract.
State Sen. Jim Runestad requested the investigations after the selection of Kolehouse’s company., which drew national attention.
“First, I agree that we hold a collective responsibility to ensure accountability and transparency in state government,” said Nessel, a Democrat in a letter to Runestad.
“These obligations are a direct result of our roles as public servants, irrespective of political party. I also agree that public confidence is bolstered by openness and honestly in the mechanics of how governmental institutions operate.
“For those reasons, I write to notify you that my office will open an investigation into this matter. Once concluded, our findings will be released to the public.”
According to the News, the original $194,000 contract was awarded to EveryAction VAN, which is an arm of the Democratic campaign data management platform, as well as Great Lakes.
Whitmer, who said she canceled the contract when she “heard about it,” in fact didn’t cancel the contract until reporters started asking about the firms’ Democratic ties.
Whitmer said that the contract was awarded through the Department of Health and Human Services without final approval from the State Emergency Operations Center.
According to the DHHS, they said the contract was approved by a group of public health officials “with support from financial operations administration and IT.”
According to Breitbart, the contract laid out personnel and a payment schedule as follows:
“The staff overseeing the programs will consist of the Owner/Operator, Director of Operations, and a 16-person management team. The management team includes two Project Managers and 14 Volunteer Managers who will each oversee approximately 400 volunteers,” it read.
Initial Payment: The first 4 weeks of services of $64,5000, plus the cost of an estimated 50 shifts ($17,500), for a total invoice amount of $82,000. Once invoiced the first payment will be due on May 1st.
Final Payment: The last 4 weeks of service will be based on shifts used in the previous month; subcontractor will adjust the bill accordingly. The invoice will include $86,000 for 4 weeks of management, plus the cost of an estimated 75 shifts ($26,250) for a total of $112,250. Once invoiced, the second payment will be due on June 1st.
Total payments from MPHI to the Subcontractor under this Agreement, shall not exceed the sum of ONE HUNDRED NINETY-FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDREED AND FIFTY AND 00/100 DOLLARS ($194,250.00). MPHI shall make payments to Subcontractor within forty-five (45) days after receipt by the Business Office of an invoice that has been approved by the project coordinator indicating the amount due and the subcontract reference number.
Breitbart also noted that the contract included exhibits consisting of two and one-half pages which detailed privacy requirements, because the volunteers would be obtaining confidential, sensitive medical information.
It also included a so-called “Stop Work Order,” which was invoked after the onset of media scrutiny. The order was transmitted to Kolehouse from DHHS as follows:
The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) has requested that the Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI) issue a Stop Work Order to Great Lakes Community Engagement for work on project N-80007.
Consequently, per Section 19 of your agreement, this letter serves as your Stop Work Order notification. All work must stop immediately on this project, effective April 21, 2020.
As further information is released we will update on this.
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