Candice Miller: Wave of record requests ahead of 2022 'not sitting well'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Candice Miller, Macomb County's Republican public works commissioner, has said she's not running for governor in 2022, but research firms appear to think she might be involved in the campaign.

During the month of June, two out-of-state businesses have filed five Freedom of Information Act requests for Miller's financial records and emails. The former U.S. House member and Michigan secretary of state says she'll respond to the filings as the law requires, but she voiced frustration with the requests, which she sees as politically motivated.

Macomb County Public Works commissioner Candice Miller

She believes Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is behind them, Miller said in an interview.

“Is she trying to draw me into this?" Miller said, referring to the 2022 campaign. "If she wants to play, OK. But she’ll need a much bigger bat than these FOIA requests.”

The early Freedom of Information Act requests point to the high stakes of next year's elections in Michigan and the heated political environment surrounding them. The incumbent Democratic governor is up for reelection in 2022, and many Republicans previously floated Miller as the top potential GOP candidate to run against Whitmer.

However, on Jan. 4, Miller, 67, announced she won't run for governor, saying she is "committed to fulfilling" her duties in Macomb County. There have still been rumblings that she could be the nominee for lieutenant governor to campaign alongside the GOP nominee for the state's top office.

On Friday, a spokesman for Whitmer directed a reporter's inquiry to the Michigan Democratic Party, which declined to comment.

The Minnesota-based firm Due Diligence Group filed four records requests on June 9 seeking Miller's calendars, travel logs, personnel file, her communications with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and other documents, including all of the emails she sent the week after the Nov. 3 election.

The requests also asked for any emails Miller sent between Jan. 1 2020, and June 8, 2021, that featured the words "Whitmer," "kung flu" or "MAGA," which is short for former President Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again."

Due Diligence Group describes itself as specializing "in using public records research to provide our clients with the knowledge and insights needed to drive strategic decision making." A person who picked up the firm's phone line Friday declined to comment on the requests.

A Freedom of Information Act from Due Diligence Group seeks records from Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, including emails that include the word "MAGA" and "kung flu."

On June 14, a Wisconsin-based firm called Red Group Analytics requested contracts between the Macomb County drainage district and outside vendors.

Miller said it will take a lot of time and county resources to fulfill the requests.

"It’s not sitting well with me," she said. "I don’t respond well to this."

Miller was reelected to a four-year term in 2020. Miller said she has been trying to work in a bipartisan way as the public works commissioner in Macomb County, the state's third largest county. Water quality is not a partisan issue, she said.

Whitmer won her first term as governor by 9 percentage points in 2018.

Six Republicans have already formed campaign committees to run next year, including conservative commentator Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores and anti-lockdown activist Garrett Soldano of Mattawan. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig is expected to announce a campaign, and former U.S. Senate candidate John James and Metro Detroit businessman Kevin Rinke are also weighing bids.