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Michigan's Whitmer spent $141,597 on five-day Taiwan trip

Each day, the group spent an average of more than $28,319.

Published: May 2, 2024 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spent $141,597 on a five-day trip to Taiwan.

The Center Square obtained the spending through records requests. The funds are private, voluntary donations to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Economic Development Fund.

It’s unclear how many people attended the more than 15,000-mile round-trip journey but it was at least 14 people from universities, local governments and an airline.

The spending includes $80,833 on airfare, $35,812 on “miscellaneous” expenses, $13,555 on hotels, $7,272 on meals, and $4,123 on transportation.

Each day, the group spent an average of more than $28,319.

Whitmer met with Delta Electronics, visited the American Institute in Taiwan, and discussed investment opportunities and partnerships in global industries such as mobility, semiconductors, and advanced manufacturing.

John Mozena, president of the Center for Economic Accountability, a nonprofit organization for transparent economic development policy, described the trips as “expensive theater productions, not serious exercises in economic development.”

“Gov. Whitmer, or any elected official, would do far more for Michigan’s economic development by focusing on the kinds of issues that truly make or break the state for companies from Taiwan, Tennessee, Troy or anywhere else in the world, things like an educated workforce, corporate tax rates, regulatory red tape, infrastructure quality, energy costs, labor and environmental regulatory restrictions, public safety and more," Mozena wrote in an email. “The more they improve those kinds of factors, the more Michigan will be a destination for companies from anywhere in the world. The worse they let those issues get, the harder it’ll be to get anyone to live or work here.”

A Ferris State University post says University President Bill Pink, Michigan State University Dean of Engineering Leo Kempel, and University of Michigan vice provost for engaged learning Valeria Bertacco attended the trip.

The post said participants included MEDC CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr., Office of Future Mobility and Electrification chief mobility officer Justine Johnson, other MEDC representatives; Sarah Gonzales, director of state and local government affairs with Delta Air Lines; Simon Whitelocke, president of ITC Michigan; Paul Van Oss, business manager for IBEW Local 58; Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corp., Oakland County Executive David Coulter and Oakland County Director of Economic Development Jeanne Broad.

“Ferris State is preparing students for careers that exist today, but also for those in the years to come,” Pink said in a statement. “We must ensure that a Ferris State degree remains relevant to a global economy, so that our students leave our institution prepared for such. I look forward to representing our great institution and our great state.”

Previously, Whitmer spent $285,000 of private MEDC money - or more than $40,000 daily - on her economic trip to Japan. She’s also traveled to Austria, Latvia, and Switzerland.

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