Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Governor's Hubby: Daniel Granholm Mulhern

I like doing research on matters that seem out of the ordinary to me. It tells me to dig deeper into things. Hiring the husband of the Governor of Michigan is a good example. It would be interesting to know when it was done, what the fee is and whether the City went out for tender. I guess there are no Canadians who can do this work, even the ones that lead the Council Strategy Sessions before.

Hiring Dan Granholm Mulhern seemed like a very interesting move to me at first. His wife was going to be the person who had a great deal of input into what the border would look like. Windsor has no friends at the Senior Levels in Canada and Kwame is probably still angry at Eddie. We know now (after my earlier BLOG) that the Americans will make the final decision. We need a friend somewhere and I guess the only one left is the Governor.

An interesting tidbit: when Jennifer Granholm married Dan Mulhern, websites on the Internet claim, she became "Jennifer Mulhern Granholm" and he became "Daniel Granholm Mulhern." ie each took the last name of the other as their middle names.

But poor Eddie and his CAO...their brilliance could be the most stupid move possible by the time this is done, not because there is anything wrong legally, but because of the controversy it may create for Windsor.

Let me explain.

On the Michigan's First Gentleman website, it is said:
  • "As his wife became Michigan’s 47th Governor in 2002, Mulhern decided to leave his firm to focus first on his wife and children."

Apparently, he still does do some out of the home work. On his website, Dan Mulhern states:

"SCHEDULING INFO. For speaking engagements outside the State of Michigan, contact:

  • A note to Michigan organizations: Dan has made the decision, in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, not to accept pay for any speeches delivered to Michigan organizations, while his wife is Governor."

There have been controversies before involving him and contracts with others. Here's a story from the Metro Times:

  • You be the judge:

    Suppose you were married to the attorney general. Would it be proper, fair, legal and ethical for you to hit up businesses — including law firms — and ask them to hire you as a high-priced “leadership development” consultant?

    In your sales-pitch literature, you subtly but unmistakably note who your spouse is. And if that weren’t enough, when you sign the come-on, you add her last name, which you’ve legally taken, to yours, as in “Daniel Granholm Mulhern.”

    That’s exactly what Mulhern, a nonpracticing lawyer who, like his more famous wife, is an alum of Harvard Law School, has been doing.

    “Have I done anything ethically wrong? I sure don’t think so,” he tells me.

    “What do you think about it?” he blurts. “I apologize for being a bit defensive on this point, but ... I went to Yale Divinity School. I think I have always tried to be a good person. I don’t think there are any ethical or legal issues.”

    Technically, any law firm is, by definition involved with the attorney general’s office; she is the chief law enforcement officer of the state and, by definition, “may intervene in any lawsuit, civil or criminal, which the interests of the state of Michigan require.” Asked whether some of the firms he solicited worked closely with the attorney general’s office, Mulhern says, “I have no idea.”

    It’s understandable that he’s a little nervous. Mulhern’s wife is not only Michigan Attorney General Jennifer Granholm; she is running for governor.

    So is what he’s doing all right? Strictly speaking, the answer seems to be yes.

    Larry Dubin, a law professor at University of Detroit Mercy and an expert on legal-ethical issues, says he knows of nothing that would ethically forbid an attorney from soliciting business in this way, even if his wife is attorney general.

    He says some might raise an eyebrow if Mulhern made an exception in adding his wife’s last name to his own in his pitch to law firms. He says he took Granholm as his middle name when they wed. In any case, as long as he isn’t fraudulently representing himself, it doesn’t appear to violate any canons.

    Dubin says, “But what I do find curious is that lawyers would be interested in these kinds of seminars. Normally, they are not. Most attorneys aren’t interested in any seminars of the type they can’t justify as a billable expense.”

    There’s never been a hint of any quid pro quo. No one’s charging that law firms that sign on to pay Mulhern $4,650 per person for nine one-day leadership sessions get special consideration from the attorney general’s office. Nor does anyone think there’s an implied threat against any firm that doesn’t hire the Mulhern Hastings Group.

    But there are plenty of people who think it doesn’t look good, including a member of one law firm who brought the solicitation letter to my attention. The fact that he doesn’t want his name made public ought to be an indication that this doesn’t feel quite right.

    As is the last page of the letter, where a lawyer has circled the “Granholm” portion of Mulhern’s last name. Next to it, in large letters, is this contemptuous scribble: “WOW! It’s still there.”

    Naturally, Daniel Mulhern has every right to make a living, regardless of his wife’s identity. Testimonials on his Web site show high praise for his abilities, from organizations such as Leadership Detroit to the Kennedy School of Government. Everyone, including me and most likely you, has gotten jobs at least in part because of who we, or our friends and relations, know.

    Other questions have been raised about cronyism involving taxpayer-supported county contracts Mulhern has been awarded.

    His wife’s political career was launched by Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara, who made her his corporation counsel in 1994. It should be noted that her husband, who had worked for the county from 1987 to 1991, didn’t do any work for McNamara’s empire while Jennifer Granholm was its chief legal officer.

    But he began soliciting county work within a month after she left. Two months ago, the Macomb Daily newspaper revealed Mulhern had been awarded six Wayne County contracts for about $300,000 worth of work shortly after his wife gave up her job as corporation counsel to become attorney general.

    According to reporter Chad Selweski, five of the contracts were no-bid affairs. Bids were taken for the sixth, a seven-month, $172,000 deal to train 20 airport personnel. All the other bids were far lower than Mulhern’s. But a four-member team awarded the contract to Mulhern Hastings. The team was headed by David Katz, now chairman of Granholm’s gubernatorial campaign. Later, Mulhern got a $7,500 contract to provide “tutorial leadership development” for Katz, then head of Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

    Jennifer Granholm and Dan Mulhern say this is no big deal. Perhaps they are right. But what bothers me most is that it doesn’t seem to bother them.

It seems Dan can be contacted at the Governor's Office by the way, as his own website says:

"If you would like to contact me directly, address all correspondence to:
Daniel Mulhern
State of Michigan,
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 20813Lansing, MI

His website says he has a newsletter to which you can subscribe.

  • "Invite your friends and families to subscribe to the First Gentleman's weekly e-newsletter called Reading For Leading, on the challenges of leadership at home, work and in life. You can subscribe by sending your request to: FirstGentleman@Michigan.Gov or visiting the First Gentleman's website "

I sure hope that the Governor's husband teaches our Mayor and Council something. What he teaches them, time only will tell.