Sister, Sister: Gretchen Whitmer Gives Max Contribution to Sister's New York Congressional Campaign

Michigan governor's father also funnels thousands to Liz Whitmer Gereghty amid difficult primary fight

Gretchen Whitmer, Liz Whitmer Gereghty (Twitter)
July 17, 2023

Michigan Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer contributed the maximum amount to her sister's New York congressional campaign, financial disclosures reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon show.

Whitmer in April sent $3,300 to boost her sister Liz Whitmer Gereghty's contentious primary fight against former liberal congressman Mondaire Jones in New York's 17th Congressional District. Two months later, in June, Whitmer sent Gereghty another $3,300 to fund her sister's potential general election campaign, according to federal disclosures. Whitmer's father also sent Gereghty $6,600, the maximum amount an individual is allowed to give a candidate in a single election cycle, while Whitmer's ex-husband gave Gereghty $1,000.

The contributions come as Gereghty faces accusations of outsourcing her campaign to her sister's Michigan as she runs to represent New York in Congress. Gereghty, who has lived in New York for two decades, has nonetheless courted support from Michigan's congressional delegation and hired a campaign manager who most recently worked in the Great Lakes State. Jones ally and "Squad" member Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) has subsequently questioned Gereghty's New York bonafides.

"I didn't even know [Whitmer's] sister lived in the district," Bowman told Politico in April. "And I don't know many people who know her."

Neither Gereghty nor Whitmer returned requests for comment. Whitmer's contributions helped Gereghty raise more than $400,000 within her campaign's first 10 weeks, and Gereghty has also received endorsements from liberal groups such as EMILY's List.

This is likely not the first time Gereghty has leaned on her sister to fuel her own political prospects. As a school board member in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District, which sits roughly 50 miles northeast of Manhattan, Gereghty became a top opponent of plans to play high school sports in the fall of 2020, arguing that sports were not an "equitable use of the school's resources." Hundreds of miles away, in Michigan, Whitmer vehemently opposed plans to hold fall football seasons at the high school and college levels, as football "is a very intimate sport where you are up in one another's faces."

Following Gereghty's input, district officials opted to only allow for varsity athletics, a move that prompted criticism from parents of freshman and junior varsity athletes. Whitmer similarly praised the Big Ten Conference for canceling fall sports, saying the decision would "keep their student-athletes safe and their families safe." Whitmer later flip-flopped on the issue when the Big Ten decided to hold a football season.

As part of her campaign, Gereghty has attacked "extremist Republicans" for "banning books" and "fearmongering about crime." Next year, she will square off against Jones in a primary fight that Democrats expect to get messy. Jones represented New York's 17th Congressional District from 2021 to 2023 but opted to run for a nearby Brooklyn seat last year, a race he lost. Gereghty has already criticized Jones for moving districts to "chase a congressional seat."

The primary's winner will face off against Republican incumbent Mike Lawler next November. Lawler in 2022 defeated then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney by less than 1 point. Lawler has so far focused his ire on Jones, calling the former congressman a "radical leftist" who is "trying to distance himself from his previously stated positions." Jones, who is known for his progressive politics, has supported the movement to defund police, called to "abolish cash bail," and expressed support for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

Charles Hilu contributed to this report.