Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Report finds no wrongdoing in Michigan contact tracing contract

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2020 at 1:43 PM

click to enlarge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer presents remarks at a press conference held on Nov. 10, 2020. - STATE OF MICHIGAN
  • State of Michigan
  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer presents remarks at a press conference held on Nov. 10, 2020.

An investigation into a firm linked to Governor Gretchen Whitmer's re-election campaign that was briefly contracted by the state to develop a COVID-19 contact tracing program found no evidence of criminal conduct, according to a new report from Attorney General Dana Nessel.

In April, as the coronavirus pandemic exploded in Michigan, Whitmer came under scrutiny for her ties to Grand Rapids-based Great Lakes Community Engagement, which was tapped to manage a contact tracing project. The firm is owned by Mike Kolehouse, a Democratic political consultant, who planned to use a software company that was been a vendor for Whitmer's re-election campaign.

The contract sparked scrutiny from Republicans, and Whitmer swiftly canceled it after Crain's Detroit Business raised questions. Later that month, Michigan State Senator Jim Runestad, an Oakland County Republican, requested an investigation.

But after eight months, interviews with 17 people, and a review of thousands of emails and other documents, a team of three criminal investigators and four assistant attorneys general found no evidence of wrongdoing. The 29-page report was released by Nessel's office Wednesday.

"I appreciate the concern raised by Sen. Runestad but I also appreciate the reality under which this contract was pursued," Nessel said in a statement. "With the benefit of hindsight, there may have been a better way to accomplish the Department's ultimate purpose but we found no evidence of criminality. Instead, it appears the imperfect process used here was mainly a result of the Department's attempt to get a contact-tracing program underway as quickly as possible in light of the dire public health crisis."

Nessel's office recommends that any request for criminal charges arising from the procurement of the contract to perform contact-tracing for COVID-19 positive cases be denied.

Michigan released a contact tracing app last month. Developed by Apple and Google, MI COVID Alert is available for free for iOS and Android devices. Using wireless Bluetooth technology, the app warns users if they may have recently been in close contact to another app user who tested positive for COVID-19, alerting them to get tested and quarantine. It does this anonymously, so you won't know who the contact is or where it happened.

You can download the app here.

This story has been updated to clarify that the firm Michigan hired was to manage a contact tracing project, not to develop an app.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 19, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation