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Michigan governor's husband criticized over alleged boating request amid coronavirus

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) husband is being criticized for allegedly requesting that his boat be placed in the water in Northern Michigan before Memorial Day weekend.

Facebook posts from NorthShore Dock LLC and its owner, Tad Dowker, said the company received a request from Whitmer’s husband, Marc Mallory, last week, even as the governor had cautioned people not to flock to the area after easing coronavirus-related restrictions, The Detroit News reported.

The posts, which are no longer visible to the public, provoked Republican state lawmakers to criticize the Democratic governor and her family for not following her own guidelines. 

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Dowker first posted on Facebook on Thursday, three days after Whitmer announced the loosening of restrictions in Northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

"This morning, I was out working when the office called me, there was a gentleman on hold who wanted his boat in the water before the weekend," Dowker posted, according to The Detroit News. "Being Memorial weekend and the fact that we started working three weeks late means there is no chance this is going to happen."

"Well our office personnel had explained this to the man and he replied, 'I am the husband to the governor, will this make a difference?' " Dowker added. 

Dowker’s company released a second statement Saturday after he removed his previous post. The new post said employees didn’t have time to work with media requests and that Mallory was respectful and understanding when the company denied his request.

"After a long day of keeping crews running, adhering to the additional safety regulations that need to be in place to operate our small business and fielding calls from customers frustrated with our lagging installation schedule I was told the governor's husband called asking for install availability," the company posted, according to The Detroit News. "Up until this point we, as a company, had no idea we installed their dock or boat."

Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown did not confirm or deny the allegations in the Facebook post, telling The Detroit News, “Our practice is not to discuss the governor’s or her family’s personal calendar/schedules. And we’re not going to make it a practice of addressing every rumor that is spread online." 

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"There’s been a lot of wild misinformation spreading online attacking the governor and her family, and the threats of violence against her personally are downright dangerous," she said.

Whitmer addressed the reports during her daily press briefing, saying her husband "made a failed attempt at humor."

"Knowing it wouldn't make a difference, he jokingly asked if being married to me might move him up in the queue," she said, adding, "He thought it might get a laugh. It didn't, and to be honest, I wasn't laughing either when it was relayed to me."

"He regrets it," she continued. "I wish it wouldn't have happened. That's really all we have to say about it." 

Whitmer and Mallory own a property in the Elk Rapids area, according to The Detroit News. The governor had warned people who don’t live in the areas to “think long and hard before you take a trip” over Memorial Day weekend. 

State Sen. Tom Barrett (R) condemned Mallory in a since-deleted Facebook post from Friday, saying that the governor had asked state residents not to “descend” on Traverse City, about 25 minutes from the couple’s property.

"In the army we have a very firm leadership understanding that the leaders in the unit eat last," he told The Hill, adding, "They don’t cut in line. They don’t assert their privilege."

Barrett said that he deleted the post after the governor's office denied the allegations and requested he remove it. He said he since corroborated the story and asserts he was "drawn into a cover-up" by Whitmer's office.

He said he didn't repost the comments on Facebook to respect the business's wishes.

Updated at 10:38 a.m.