Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel refused requests from Republican state lawmakers Monday to launch an investigation into Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
In February, State Sen. Jim Runestad spearheaded a letter signed by seven others calling on Nessel to launch a probe into Whitmer’s April 15 executive order mandating long-term care facilities admit COVID-infected patients, in a similar directive to that handed down by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Whitmer’s order was renewed throughout the summer until it was finally rescinded in September.
“Attorney General Nessel knows the right thing to do – and that is to get answers for every family who lost a loved one to COVID-19 in a nursing home,” Runestad said in a Monday statement, as the true toll of Whitmer’s order remains unknown. The governor’s Department of Health and Human Services is undergoing active litigation to keep data private that could reveal the true effects of Whitmer’s order on nursing homes.
Hours after Runestad’s statement, Nessel sent a letter to the state senator denying Republicans’ request for what she decried as a “political” investigation.
“Though I will not hesitate to act when justified, I also will not abuse the investigatory powers of this Department to launch a political attack,” Nessel wrote. “No investigation is warranted at this time.”
Nessel argued no investigation was needed, despite the governor’s office withholding data that could reveal the severity of her own orders, in part based upon a report from the University of Michigan that concluded the state’s strategy to protect nursing homes “performed well.”
The report conducted by the University of Michigan’s Center for Health and Research Transformation, however, according to Detroit News Reporter Craig Mauger, was funded by the Health Endowment Fund, which has a board appointed by the governor.
An interesting point in AG Nessel’s letter is the mention of a nursing home study from the Center for Health and Research Transformation at U of M.
That report was funded by the Health Endowment Fund.
— Craig Mauger (@CraigDMauger) March 15, 2021
While Nessel refuses an investigation into a governor of her own party because it would be “political,” the Democrat attorney general appointed prosecutors to go after the state’s former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, whom she described as a “soulless monster” on “numerous occasions.”
In defending her decision to deny a probe into Whitmer, Nessel wrote, “law enforcement officials have an ethical duty to … ‘limit the political impact’ of an investigation ‘without regard to the official’s personal political beliefs or affiliations.’” Nessel also wrote, “in any event, bad policy alone would not be grounds for an investigation by my office.”
Yet Snyder faces two misdemeanor charges on just that, stemming from “willful neglect” over the Flint water crisis. Snyder’s alleged crimes, Nessel’s office charged, are “failing to inquire into the performance, condition and administration of the public offices and officers that he appointed and was required to supervise” on one count, and “failing to declare a state of emergency and/or disaster” in Flint on another.
Snyder’s former Chief of Staff Jarrod Agen has also been indicted on charges of perjury by a one-man jury, with lies that remain unclear two months after indictment.
“This move by the highly partisan Nessel, a Democrat, could easily be taken as politically motivated against the former Republican governor, and pandering to a constituency that has demanded Snyder be held accountable for Flint,” wrote the Detroit News Editorial Board in January.
While ordering the prosecution of a governor already out of office she’s declared a “soulless monster,” Nessel won’t investigate the state’s current governor over a nursing home policy for which the administration has refused transparency.