Conservative group alleges nonprofit improperly funded Whitmer flights to Florida

Conservative group alleges nonprofit improperly funded Whitmer flights to Florida
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The conservative group Michigan Rising Action on Wednesday filed a complaint with the IRS alleging that a flight Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerGovernors brace for 2022 after year in pandemic spotlight Protesters crash former Detroit police chief's gubernatorial announcement event Former Detroit police chief launching gubernatorial campaign vs. Whitmer next week MORE (D) took to see her father in Florida was improperly funded by a nonprofit organization.

The Detroit News reports that Eric Ventimiglia, executive director of the group, said in the filing that Whitmer’s trip on a private plane in March was outside the scope of the tax-exempt organization Michigan Transition 2019.

Ventimiglia argued that the arrangement surrounding the flight constituted improper "private benefit" to the governor.

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The organization, funded to help with Whitmer’s inauguration, allegedly paid $27,521 to charter the plane that Whitmer took, with the Michigan governor paying $855 for her seat.

"In light of these facts, we encourage you to investigate whether Michigan Transition 2019 has violated the Internal Revenue Code, and if so, to take appropriate action, including the assessment of any appropriate penalties," Ventimiglia wrote in the complaint, according to The Detroit News.

Michigan Transition 2019 has maintained that the flight was not conducted improperly. The Detroit News reports that Whitmer’s chief of staff JoAnne Huls said in a memo last Friday that the arrangement "was done in compliance with the law."

"Due to ongoing security and public health concerns, we made a decision to use a chartered flight for this trip," Huls said.

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and state Rep. Steve Johnson (R), chair of the Michigan House Oversight Committee, indicated they might investigate Whitmer’s flight.

Johnson said he might also send a letter with questions to Whitmer’s office.

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"If they refuse to [answer questions], maybe, at that point, we will do hearings. It's definitely something in consideration," Johnson said. "I would like to give the administration the opportunity to answer questions before we go down that road."

An FAA spokesperson also told the newspaper that Air Eagle, the Detroit-based company that operates the plane Whitmer few on, was not certified for charter-type services.

The FAA said it was premature "to conclude that a violation of federal aviation regulations occurred," but added it was “looking into the matter.”