News & Politics

Michigan Dem. Gretchen Whitmer Crashed Into Parked Car in 2016, Witness Said She Was 'Intoxicated'

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2018, file photo, Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer addresses her supporters in Detroit after winning the Democratic primary. Whitmer will face Republican Bill Schuette in November. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

In 2016, Gretchen Whitmer, now the Democratic nominee for the Michigan governor’s race, slammed into a parked car in Elk Rapids, Mich., according to a police report. PJ Media identified her by the phone number she left in a note on the damaged vehicle — the same phone number she used to file her candidacy for governor. According to a second note from a witness, Whitmer appeared “intoxicated” during the incident. Whitmer was the Ingham County prosecutor at the time.

In a message to PJ Media, the campaign admitted the incident occurred but insisted that alcohol was not involved. They did not give an alternate explanation for why the collision occurred, however.

According to the police report, Elk Rapids resident Bernardine Baker approached police reporting that her 2007 Subaru Forester station wagon had been damaged. “Ms. BAKER advised that one note (note #1) was apparently from the driver which had struck her car. The second note (note #2) was apparently from a witness who had observed her car being struck.”

Baker provided the notes to police, the first on a lined piece of notebook paper and the second on a paper plate. The police reported the messages, admitting that they were “not exactly verbatim.”

The first note read, “I’m so sorry — I bumped your car. Front driver side above the wheel. It doesn’t look like much. But if youd (sic) like to discuss this, I’m more than happy to. Gretchen [Number redacted].”

“I saw the accident happen,” the second note began. “I know they left a name & number but I dont know if it was real. So I got the make and license number white ford expedition (sic) BPA9492. There were cops around but didn’t see it. They didn’t approach them be they looked pretty intoxicated my name is Scott [Number redacted] sorry about the bad hand writing nothing to write on haha.”

PJ Media called the numbers listed in the report for Baker, Gretchen Whitmer, the witness who identified himself as “scott,” and the Elk Rapids Police Department. Each call went to voicemail.

The campaign admitted the accident occurred on August 6, 2016, and showed a photo of the candidate meeting with Baker to pay the cost of the damage.

“Gretchen had a small fender bender after attending an event with her daughters. She left a note on the car with her phone number,” Zack Pohl, the campaign’s communications director, told PJ Media in an email Tuesday. “The woman who owned the car, Ms. [Bernardine] Baker, called Gretchen back, and Gretchen went to her house on August 12th to pay for the damage to the vehicle.”

The campaign sent photos Whitmer took, showing the damage to the car and showing her later meeting with Baker.

Photo courtesy of Whitmer for Governor.

Photo courtesy of Whitmer for Governor.

As for the claim that Whitmer was intoxicated, Pohl insisted, “Alcohol was not involved. That claim is false.”

This incident has not previously been reported in the Michigan governor’s race, but the phone number provided in note #1 matches the phone number Whitmer used to file her candidacy for governor. That number appears with her name in the official list of candidates who filed with Grand Traverse County and Clinton County, for the general election and the primary election respectively.

While the police report lists a status of “Closed” at the top, the “Complaint status” is described as “open / pending obtaining any additional information and possible contact with witness and subject WHITMER.”

From the photo of Baker’s thumbs up picture with Whitmer, it appears the complainant dropped the case. The witness who went by “scott” did not return PJ Media’s request for comment to describe why he thought Whitmer was intoxicated at the time. Whitmer’s campaign did not explain why the incident occurred.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.