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Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is calling for transparency and an investigation into Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's potentially illegal actions in canceling contracts with two Democratic firms to track coronavirus after facing criticism of her pursuit.
In an interview on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" with host Tucker Carlson, Laxalt said Thursday said the governor could be in "big trouble."
"Let's see what happened here. So, this contract gets awarded to this Democratic group. And, politics and your official office are never supposed to overlap. And, Michigan is one of the only states in America where the governor and the legislature are exempted from [the] Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests. So, she doesn't have to turn over these records. She's already rejected them," he said. "She's put an order on top of that that her entire government will not do Freedom of Information requests all the way till June."
"So," he continued, "she's basically said: 'Look, it's the pandemic and I'm just not going to be accountable to the people during a pandemic.' Which, obviously, I think is outrageous."
According to The Washington Post, Whitmer canceled a nearly $200,000 no-bid contract just a day after announcing the hiring of a state Democratic consultant and a national firm that has worked for notable Democratic causes.
Whitmer's reversal came amid complaints that she had utilized politically connected firms to gather "contract tracing" health data on state residents.
On Monday, the state's Department of Health and Human Services announced that the program would be spearheaded by Great Lakes Community Engagement and managed in coordination with EveryAction. Great Lakes Community Engagement is run by a Michigan-based Democratic consultant and the EveryAction software firm is linked to a technology provider, NGP VAN, that powers Democratic campaigns.
However, just a day later, the state said it would move in a different direction -- hiring two new companies before the real tracking work could begin. They had recently begun training more than 2,200 volunteers to aid in the program's efforts.
The governor's press secretary, Tiffany Brown, said that the executive office was "uncomfortable" with the vendor for "the same reason others are," adding that the public needs to have confidence that the tracing work is being done by a nonpartisan firm.
While EveryAction and NGP VAN were adamant that their work would be to supply software and supply software only -- something they also noted conservative-aligned firms have done, as well -- and destroy all data upon completion, Republicans were not as convinced.
"Oh Em Gee!" Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "This is some pretty scary stuff."
In addition, Whitmer's political campaign had been using NGP VAN for the last five months of 2019, according to campaign finance reports.
Meanwhile, Great Lakes Community Engagement head Mike Kolehouse -- the coordinator of the endeavor -- has declined to provide any past clients or examples of his work. Kolehouse reportedly posted on his Facebook last month that he hoped President Trump would get coronavirus "ASAP."
According to Chad Livengood at Crains Detroit, the contract between the state of Michigan and Great Lakes Community Engagement can be terminated without cause.
"I think if the public understood what this means, they'd be incredibly outraged," Laxalt told Carlson. "It is now the time when she's making these huge decisions on liberties and peoples' lives and spending money that the public should have more of an insight into how she's making these decisions, not less. But, that's the system they're under right now."
"She's already found time to reject our initial FOIA request. And so, we are going to FOIA every state entity that should have touched a state contract and that's where we could find the real trouble," he explained.
"Did they go through the hurdles they should have to pass the state contract?" he asked. "And, I would add one interesting thing. Any contract over $250,000 goes to a public board that the governor sits on, the Attorney General sits on, the public could have seen it, they could have asked questions... Magically this thing ends up under that threshold, so lo and behold it doesn't go to a public board."
"So, there [are] a lot of questions to be answered," Laxalt said. "Obviously, the governor could clear this up by simply releasing these records and letting the public know exactly how this contract came about."
"We would request and hopefully people like you will request: make those people respond to this," he added. "The governor can absolutely respond to this FOIA request and she must."