State News

Ed Duggan introduced state health officials to political consultant who won contact-tracing job

July 02, 2020, 9:36 AM

Mayor Mike Duggan's son, Ed, is revealed as the individual who recommended that a political consultant with no health experience handle Covid-19 contact tracing for the state. The $194,250 contract was canceled in April by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, after Republicans and journalists raised questions about Mike Kolehouse's firm, Great Lakes Community Engagement.

Ed Duggan (Photo: LinkedIn)

Chad Livengood reports at Crain's Detroit Business (paywalled);

Emails obtained by Crain's through a public records request show Ed Duggan, a senior adviser in the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, introduced Grand Rapids political consultant Mike Kolehouse to a DHHS official in a March 25 email.

"(Kolehouse) does some organizing and can help on some efforts if you need it," Ed Duggan wrote in an email to Andrea Taverna, a DHHS senior adviser.

DHHS, the state's Department of Health and Human Services, was looking for a firm to handle contact tracing, the practice of investigating where an infected individual may have traveled and who he or she may have had close contact with. Swift notification of exposed individuals, followed by self-quarantine, can limit spread. Kolehouse's firm had never done it before, and was primarily experienced in political fundraising and organizing. 

Kolehouse planned to use a software for calling and tracing COVID-19 contacts developed by NGP VAN, a Washington, D.C.-based software and tech vendor that Democratic political campaigns, including Whitmer's campaign committee, use for fundraising and contacting voters.

Whitmer has said that DHHS officials did not follow proper procurement protocols in hiring Kolehouse to manage volunteers to contact individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and trace to whom they may have spread the disease.

Ed Duggan has a history of working in politics, for Whitmer and his father. He's Michigan political director for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. 

Read more:  Crain's Detroit Business

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