WATCH: Whitmer Claims Her Husband Was Just Joking When He Asked for Preferential Boat Treatment

Michigan Governor Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been forced to go on the defensive after stories about her husband asking for preferential boat treatment hit the newswires.

“He thought it might get a laugh,” Whitmer said of her husband, Marc Mallory, as reported by The Detroit News. “It didn’t. And to be honest, I wasn’t laughing either when it was relayed to me. Because I knew how it would be perceived.”

Fox News reports Whitmer, a Democrat, famously has imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the country, sparking frequent protests. What’s more, she’s told people not living in Northern Michigan to stay away from vacation spots there during the holiday weekend.

In Facebook posts no longer visible to the public, NorthShore Dock LLC and its owner, Tad Dowker, focused on what Dowker said was a request last week by Whitmer’s husband, Marc Mallory. The posts caught the attention of Republican state lawmakers, who said the governor’s family may not have wanted to follow the guidance she’s issued for the rest of the state.

“This morning, I was out working when the office called me, there was a gentleman on hold who wanted his boat in the water before the weekend,” Dowker posted. “Being Memorial weekend and the fact that we started working three weeks late means there is no chance this is going to happen.”

People reports Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claimed Tuesday that her husband was joking when he nudged a northern Michigan docking company about giving him preferential treatment because he’s married to the governor.

“He thought it might get a laugh,” Whitmer said of her husband, Marc Mallory, as reported by The Detroit News. “It didn’t. And to be honest, I wasn’t laughing either when it was relayed to me. Because I knew how it would be perceived.”

Whitmer’s stay-at-home restrictions, put in place to slow the novel coronavirus pandemic, have been under criticism from conservatives who have argued the orders are too strict. The news of Whitmer’s husband making the trip to northern Michigan and urging NorthShore Dock LLC to install his boat in the water by Memorial Day weekend raised questions among critics about whether the governor and her family were abiding by the same rules she’s urged others to follow.

The northern Michigan docking company said in a Facebook post last Thursday that Mallory called and asked about installing his boat before being told it couldn’t be done by the weekend.

The Detroit News reported that Tad Dowker, the owner of NorthShore Dock LLC, detailed the exchange in a now-deleted social media post.

“This morning, I was out working when the office called me, there was a gentleman on hold who wanted his boat in the water before the weekend,” Dowker’s post read, according to the News and the Detroit Free Press. “Being Memorial weekend and the fact that we started working three weeks late means there is no chance this is going to happen.”

Dowker’s post continued: “Our office personnel had explained this to the man and he replied, ‘I am the husband to the governor, will this make a difference?’ ”

Whitmer said Tuesday that the comment was made in jest.

“He regrets it. I wish it wouldn’t have happened. And that’s really all we have to say about it,” Whitmer told reporters.

Whitmer’s office previously said in a statement to the News that it wasn’t going to “make it a practice of addressing every rumor that is spread online.”

“There’s been a lot of wild misinformation spreading online attacking the governor and her family, and the threats of violence against her personally are downright dangerous,” the office said, before the governor confirmed the story and that her husband had traveled from Lansing to northern Michigan.

“My husband did go up to our place in Antrim County and rake some leaves and came home,” Whitmer said. “So, he was there. We did not all pile in the car to go enjoy our second home although that would have been permitted.”

NorthShore Dock deleted its post after it gained traction online and said the company couldn’t handle the media requests coming in on top of daily work.

The company later clarified in another post that, according to them, Mallory was respectful in understanding his request could not be fulfilled, Fox News reported.