Granholm’s Failed Governorship

Michigan Dem oversaw economic collapse, joblessness
Jennifer Granholm / AP

Jennifer Granholm / AP


Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm will speak to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) tonight as part of a lineup of “power women.” Unlike fellow female speakers Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Warren, Granholm has wielded real power in an actual elected office—but her tenure as governor of Michigan between 2003 and 2011 was marred by economic woes and ethical failings.

During her terms, Michigan’s GDP growth was “worst in the nation” according to PolitiFact. While Granholm tried to attribute her state’s dismal growth to cuts in the state budget, PolitiFact said, “They weren’t the primary cause of the state’s poor economic performance.”

Citing economic analyst Patrick Anderson of East Lansing, PolitiFact said “Long-term troubles in the automotive industry, the national recession and raising taxes on businesses and individuals ‘were all partially to blame.’”

Granholm actually presided over the “highest tax increases in the history of Michigan,” Idaho representative Raul Labrador said during a debate with Granholm, a statement that PolitiFact, not known for its favorable treatment of Republicans, did not dispute.

Along with massive tax hikes unemployment spiked, going from 6.8 percent at the beginning of her tenure to 10.4 by the time she left office.

She tried to bring in green-energy business initiatives while in office, such as the retooling of a closed Ford plant in 2009. The Wixom, Michigan plant would have made renewable energy resources like solar panels and storage batteries and was projected to create 4,000-plus jobs. “This is symbolic for Michigan of what we are to become,” then-Governor Granholm said. “We don’t want to be viewed as Luddites in this state.”

The plant instead came to symbolize Michigan’s economic woes: after two years, Ford Land CEO Donna Inch had to concede, “the original vision hasn’t completely panned out.” Negotiations between the two prospective green-energy companies trying to move into the plant and the U.S. Department of Energy broke down, leading Ford to look elsewhere. The Granholm-championed project took Wixom on an “emotional rollercoaster” for two years, Wixom’s mayor said.

The Detroit Free Press panned Democrat-championed green-energy: “One factor driving Ford’s move to open up the Wixom project to a wider range of industries is the erratic nature of the green-energy sector, which has generated buzz and attracted venture capital but also relies often on government subsidies to prop up demand.”

On top of failed business initiatives, rising taxes, heightened unemployment, and stalled economic growth, Granholm is saddled with allegations of unethical and inappropriate conduct.

Her husband “landed six contracts with Wayne County” soon after Granholm left the county office “with the help of some of Granholm’s top campaign supporters,” the Macomb Daily reported. “Five of the agreements were no-bid contracts and the sixth was awarded through a process in which Mulhern’s firm submitted the highest bid but won the contract anyway.”

The FBI investigated her political mentor, Ed McNamara, and two individuals on her transition team were named on a search warrant in the same case.

Granholm approved a $9.1 million grant to a convicted embezzler with a fictitious company. “The root issue is that the Granholm administration was negligent and failed to do even basic due diligence before awarding these tax credits,” Rep. Jase Bolger, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Investigations Committee, said. Another House representative said that the administration “rushes to make headlines by announcing job creation numbers before jobs are actually created,” reminiscent of the Wixom plant disaster.

And finally, she released “at least 38” convicts “in prison for murder,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

Andrew Evans   Email Andrew | Full Bio | RSS
Andrew Evans is an assistant editor at National Affairs and a former reporter for the Washington Free Beacon, where he covered government accountability and healthcare issues.

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