Whitmer’s Former Aide Who Helped Pass EV Funding Now A Top GM Lobbyist

George W. Cook III, who previously served as the top legislative aide to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, has transitioned to a senior lobbyist role for General Motors (GM) after aiding in the passage of a significant funding package leveraged for electric vehicle (EV) projects. This development underscores the revolving door between government and the auto industry and highlights the Whitmer administration’s controversial use of state funds for EV initiatives.

During his tenure as Whitmer’s director of legislative affairs, Cook played a crucial role in crafting and advancing the Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) program, a billion-dollar funding initiative aimed at spurring private economic development. Shortly after the program’s establishment, GM became the first beneficiary, securing substantial funding for its EV projects.

Since Cook’s departure from Whitmer’s administration, SOAR’s funding has doubled to $2 billion, further intensifying scrutiny of the program. Critics argue that the program is politically motivated and lacks proper oversight. “The SOAR program allows the state to give whatever company lawmakers want however much money they want to give them,” said James Hohman, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center. “This is not how budgeting is supposed to work, it’s not how economic development is supposed to work.”

Cook, after leaving Whitmer’s office in May 2022, initially joined Kellanova as senior director of state government relations before moving to GM as its Midwest regional director of state and local public policy in Lansing. His rapid transition from government service to a top lobbying position at GM, a primary beneficiary of the SOAR program, raises questions about the ethics and transparency of such career moves.

“This situation shows that the ‘all-electric future’ hawked by liberals is just another pay-for-play scheme where corporate donors reward loyal politicians and their staff for sending eye-popping sums of taxpayer dollars their way,” commented Abby Mitch, executive director of Michigan Rising Action.

Despite significant investments in EV projects, Whitmer’s administration has faced backlash over the secrecy of its deals and the involvement of companies with ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Notably, Ford Motor Company and EV battery makers Gotion and Our Next Energy have received additional funding from the expanded SOAR program, with some projects facing strong local opposition.

The controversy around the SOAR program and Cook’s new role at GM highlights ongoing concerns about the intersection of politics and corporate interests. As Michigan continues to allocate billions of dollars to EV initiatives, the ethical implications of these funding decisions remain a topic of intense debate.