Whitmer Stocks Administration with Lobbyists, Raising Serious Concerns about Conflicts of Interest

Seven of Governor’s First Major Appointments Were Registered Lobbyists before Being Picked by Whitmer to Oversee State Offices, Departments

LANSING, MI, January 9, 2019 – Michigan Freedom Fund President Terri Reid today sounded the alarm over growing conflict of interest concerns swirling around the office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, following the appointment of seven former lobbyists to oversee major state agencies and offices.

These former lobbyists were appointed by Whitmer to serve as the Governor’s Chief Strategist, State Budget Director, Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Chief of Legislative Affairs, Public Affairs Director, Policy Director, and Director of the state Department of Natural Resources.  The vast majority of these individuals were active as registered lobbyists as recently as November 2018.  

Public watchdogs from both parties have publicly raised concerns following a report yesterday that an 8th appointment – Orlene Hawks, Whitmer’s hand-picked director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) – is married to a prominent lobbyist with clients whose interests are often overseen by LARA.

“In just a few weeks’ time, Gretchen Whitmer has constructed a massive pipeline from the lobby corps directly into her administration,” said Terri Reid, President of the Michigan Freedom Fund. “These appointments raise serious questions about conflicts of interest and regular Michiganders’ ability to get a fair shake from their state government.  A number of the lobbyists picked by Governor Whitmer formerly served clients – or worked for firms serving clients – with interests that collide head on with their new government positions. Whitmer owes voters transparency about where these conflicts exist – all of them – and what her administration will do to eliminate them.”

Lobbyists moved by Whitmer into senior roles in her administration include:

Mark Burton – Chief Strategist

Lobby ID#: 012354
Registrant’s Name: MARK A BURTON
Lobby Type: Lobbyist Agent
Date Became Lobbyist/Agent: 02/05/2013

Date Terminated: 08/10/2017


Chris Kolb – State Budget Director

Lobby ID#: 010855
Registrant’s Name: CHRIS KOLB
Lobby Type: Lobbyist Agent
Date Became Lobbyist/Agent: 01/02/2009 (*ACTIVE)


Liesl Clark – Director, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Lobby ID#: 012562
Registrant’s Name: LIESL EICHLER CLARK
Lobby Type: Lobbyist Agent
Date Became Lobbyist/Agent: 11/01/2013
Date Terminated: 11/15/2018


Greg Bird – Chief of Legislative Affairs

Lobby ID#: 010824
Registrant’s Name: GREGORY BIRD
Lobby Type: Lobbyist Agent
Date Became Lobbyist/Agent: 11/07/2008
Date Terminated: 12/31/2018


Jennifer Flood – Public Affairs Director

Lobby ID#: 013404
Registrant’s Name: JENNIFER FLOOD
Lobby Type: Lobbyist Agent
Date Became Lobbyist/Agent: 05/09/2016
Date Terminated: 12/21/2018


Emily Laidlaw – Policy Director

Lobby ID#: 012226
Registrant’s Name: EMILY LAIDLAW
Lobby Type: Lobbyist Agent
Date Became Lobbyist/Agent: 09/13/2012
Date Terminated: 11/30/2018


Daniel Eichinger – Director, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Lobby ID#: 012780
Registrant’s Name: DANIEL EICHINGER
Lobby Type: Lobbyist Agent
Date Became Lobbyist/Agent: 08/11/2014
Date Terminated: 12/31/2018