Former Michigan Health Director Gordon Details Resignation in Letter


Gordon said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer deserved to have a director of the Department of Health and Human Services “with whom she is comfortable.”  “Michigan was hit hard by COVID early, and initially had the third-highest fatality rate in the nation. But different perspectives can produce strong outcomes.” 

“On occasion, there were robust conversations about policy issues where reasonable people could disagree and did. This was healthy: The stakes were life and death, and different people have different roles,” Gordon wrote in the letter. “There weren’t any improprieties with his work. He resigned and the governor accepted his resignation. No additional details to share, and we’re not going to speculate on rumor,” Whitmer communications director Tiffany Brown said in an email Thursday. 

The letter came a day after Gordon and Whitmer agreed to waive a confidentiality clause in a separation agreement signed in February. The deal paid Gordon $155,000, and also stated that “in the interest of protecting deliberations among government officials, the parties agree to maintain confidentiality regarding employee’s departure from employment unless required by law to release such information.”  More:New Whitmer directive still allows confidential payouts as part of separation agreements

Gordon declined to comment beyond what he included in his letter. Neither Gordon nor the governor’s office would confirm whether a policy disagreement directly led to his departure. Gordon’s letter says he offered his resignation and the governor accepted, but neither Gordon nor Whitmer’s office would say whether the governor asked him to leave. More:Whitmer, ex-health department director Robert Gordon drop confidential clause in deal

That clause prompted considerable outcry from critics, chiefly Republican lawmakers in the Legislature. House Oversight Committee Chairman Steven Johnson, R-Wayland, previously said he planned to investigate the separation agreement and asked Gordon to testify.  “I have requested and will continue to request their testimony before the House’s Oversight Committee.” 

On Thursday, Johnson and 20 other lawmakers filed a resolution seeking subpoena power for the House Oversight Committee. “While it’s disappointing, it took tremendous, sustained public pressure and outcry to get to this point, I am glad that the governor and former Director Gordon have finally made it possible for them to offer open, honest testimony before the Legislature on the state’s controversial nursing home policy,” Johnson said Thursday, in response to Gordon and Whitmer waiving the confidentiality clause.  Gordon’s letter indicated he was submitting the written statement in lieu of appearing before the committee. Lawmakers who previously called for his resignation will likely continue to pursue more information as to the circumstances that prompted his departure. 

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