Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the embattled Michigan Democrat who was hit with a recent ethics complaint after allegedly accepting a discounted private jet trip to Florida while cautioning residents against leaving the state, apologized Sunday after a photo emerged on social media that appeared to show her disregarding social distancing guidelines at a bar in the state.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the photo showed the governor with a large group at The Landshark Bar & Grill, which is in East Lansing. The paper pointed out that the group was unmasked and there seemed to be no social distancing.
“Yesterday, I went with friends to a local restaurant,” Whitmer said in a statement obtained by the paper. “As more people arrived, the tables were pushed together. Because we were all vaccinated, we didn’t stop to think about it. In retrospect, I should have thought about it. I am human. I made a mistake, and I apologize.”
Her office did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News. The paper reported that the photo first appeared on social media after an attendee posted the picture and quickly deleted it. The report said Whitmer appeared to be with a dozen people with tables pushed together. The Free Press pointed out that the state still requires social distancing at restaurants, with no more than six people at tables.
Whitmer has come under scrutiny for using a jet owned by prominent business executives and largely covering the cost with Michigan Transition 2019, a nonprofit fund that was initially established for inauguration events. The tab was $27,521, with Whitmer personally paying $855 of that amount.
JoAnne Huls, Whitmer’s chief of staff, said the account defrays the governor’s travel costs when they are consistent with the fund’s purposes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report