‘The state’s procurement rules do not require a competitive bidding process during a state of emergency…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) As Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer imposes perhaps the most arbitrary and restrictive lockdown measures in the country, she was caught trying to funnel taxpayer money to a Democratic political consulting and technology corporation.
Whitmer’s administration hired Every Action VAN, which manages voter-contact software platforms, to organize a contact tracing system for the coronavirus pandemic, the Detroit News reported.
Every Action’s website brags that its services are “trusted by” radical left-wing organizations, including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, NextGen Climate, and the LGBT-activist Equality Federation.
Every Action is a division of NGP VAN, which brands itself as “the leading technology provider to Democratic and progressive campaigns and organizations.”
No other companies were allowed to bid on the contract.
Every Action’s system would monitor people who have tested positive for the coronavirus as well as people who have come into contact with them.
Then, these people would be watched, interviewed and quarantined.
Not only would Every Action have access to Michigan citizens’ health information, in potential violation of HIPPA laws, but the information may have gone into Democratic campaign databases.
Michigan Republicans noticed Whitmer’s decision to hire Democratic operatives to lead the state’s citizen tracking initiative.
“In addition to the fact that a partisan company should not be handling a public health crisis, the Michigan Republican Party is extremely concerned with how this data will be used,” said Laura Cox, chairwoman for the Michigan Republican Party. “The fact that there is now the possibility that it will be utilized for partisan ends is deeply troubling.”
Lynn Sutfin, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, claimed citizens’ information would not have been abused because the state has “a strict data use agreement that only allows the data collected to be used for this contact tracing project.”
She said the state did not need to consider multiple bids for the software services since “the state’s procurement rules do not require a competitive bidding process during a state of emergency.”
Under normal procedures, the contract should have been approved by the State Emergency Operations Center.
SEOC did not approve it, yet the center issued a press release to announce the contract.
Whitmer’s administration did not grant the contract directly to Every Action.
Instead, the state health department signed the contract with Great Lakes Community Engagement, a Democratic nonprofit firm run by Michael Kolehouse, Fox News reported.
Kolehouse recently wrote on Facebook that someone should “do the country a favor and cough on that man,” referring to President Donald Trump, who he said should “get Coronavirus ASAP.”
After pushback, Whitmer canceled the contract on Tuesday, a day after announcing it.
Republican state Rep. Shane Hernandez, chairman of the Michigan House Appropriations Committee, said Whitmer “must answer the question of how this could happen in the first place,” Newsweek reported.
“I can’t believe this is the only instance where this administration has made questionable decisions about awarding contracts that may be political in nature during this time of unprecedented executive power,” Hernandez said.
Although the state did not sign the contract with Great Lakes Community Engagement until Monday, the work state date was set as April 1.
Whitmer’s administration was planning to pay GLCE $82,000 on May 1 for its work in April. An additional $112,250 payment would have been set on June 1.
Last Thursday, Whitmer’s administration said that the state had not officially selected a software company to develop the coronavirus contact-tracing system.
That statement appears misleading, since the state knew that Every Action was set to begin work on the software on April 1.
Whitmer’s recent rise to national prominence “coincides with the hiring of Chris Meagher, who served most recently as press secretary for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign,” Ingrid Jacques wrote in the Detroit News.
She walked into the national spotlight in February with her response to Trump’s State of the Union address.
Since the coronavirus hysteria began, she has appeared on national news stations about 30 times.
“I’m not thinking about politics,” Whitmer said about her response to the coronavirus.
Meagher works directly for the governor and the state health department.
Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said the state hired Meagher “as a temporary (1099) employee to assist us with national press and work with MDHHS on messaging” because the state was “getting slammed” for its response to the coronavirus.
Meagher’s compensation could not be determined because the governor’s office is exempt from FOIA requests and lawsuits.
“The real question for Michigan taxpayers who are footing the bill is whether Meagher is on board to serve their interests or the governor’s political ambitions,” Jacques wrote.