Finley: Financial settlements, confidentiality pacts are improper for public servants

March 04, 2021, 7:12 AM

Maybe this is a legacy of the Trump era, when many came to accept the idea of non-disclosure agreements as a condition of employment. But Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley reminds readers that they are improper for government employees, and the financial settlements that go with them may be, too. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Photo: State of Michigan)

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has avoided questions about recent revelations that her administration gave high-ranking, departing members of her team financial settlements, accompanied by confidentiality agreements that bar them from discussing their work on the conditions of their departure. She depicted them as routine separation agreements, and objected when Lansing reporter Tim Skubic described them as "hush money."

Finley writes:

"First of all, a public employee can't have a confidentiality agreement because all of their actions and work belong to the public," says former Gov. John Engler. "You can't throw a shroud over the activity of somebody who held a public position and demand they say 'I can’t talk about what I did in my public role because I signed an agreement to keep it private.'"

Representatives from the Snyder and Granholm administrations say the same, with one exception being former Treasurer Andy Dillon, who collected payment for unused leave time after he left. Finley notes:

Whitmer is not likely to face an honest investigation from either Michigan's Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel or President Joe Biden's Justice Department.

That leaves only the Republican-controlled Legislature to demand accountability from the governor. Lawmakers must muster what power they can to get the answers Whitmer is refusing to give.

Read more:  The Detroit News

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