TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's chief financial officer has sent a letter to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer encouraging her to return to the Sunshine State, where she traveled to visit her ill father in March, despite cautioning Michigan residents against traveling out of state.
Republican CFO Jimmy Patronis wrote the letter to the Democratic governor Monday, including "a summary of promotional materials to help plan your next visit."
A spokeswoman for Whitmer admitted last week that the governor traveled to Florida in March.
"The governor did not go on spring break, and she has not left the state in over a month," spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said in a statement.
Brown said the trip, which did not come at the expense of taxpayers, was to "assist her elderly father, who is battling a chronic illness." She said Whitmer's trip wasn't very long and came at a time when Michigan's daily positivity rate was in the low single digits. Brown also pointed out that Whitmer has never tested positive for COVID-19 and has already been vaccinated.
The admission came after it was reported that Tricia Foster, Whitmer's chief operations officer, traveled to Siesta Key to vacation.
"As both you and your COO now know from personal experience, Florida is safe for travel," Patronis wrote. "With over 5 million Floridians vaccinated, unlike a lot of other states, Florida has largely returned to normal."
Patronis went on to write that "many of your fellow Michiganders traveled to the Sunshine State this year -- and we proudly welcomed them!"
"Moreover, much like yourself, many of your constituents likely have loved ones in Florida they haven't visited in some time," Patronis wrote. "I know members of your team are telling you to downplay the recent trips to Florida. Don't listen to them. Now that you and your COO have personally experienced what the Sunshine State has to offer, I encourage you to share your experiences publicly. More importantly, however, don't be a stranger!"
Patronis ended his letter saying simply, "See you again soon."
Republicans have accused Whitmer of lying after she told a Michigan podcast that she was "here in town the whole time" during spring break and hadn't taken a trip since going to Israel on official business.