by Bruce Walker
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel defiantly responded to a letter from U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., regarding the number of nursing home deaths in the state attributed to COVID-19.
Scalise is ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Coronavirus. His June 25 letter – also signed by Reps. Jim Jordan, R- Ohio; Blaine Luetkeymer, R-Mo.; and Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. – followed a similar letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to which she did not respond.
In the subcommittee letter, which was also sent to four attorneys general in other states (New York, New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania; all states with Democratic governors), the Congressional members requested Nessel investigate the impact of Whitmer’s executive orders that housed COVID-19 patients in the same long-term care facilities as elderly nursing home residents.
Nessel’s June 29 response indicates the subcommittee’s letter was motivated by partisanship.
“While I appreciate and share your concern for the impact of COVID-19 on the health and safety of our elderly population, I am curious as to why similar requests have not been sent to states with Republican Governors,” she wrote.
Nessel also noted she found “troubling” the “context” of the subcommittee’s letter.
“You begin by saying that you ‘understand that [my] investigation will not cover the Governor’s April 15, 2020 order….’ You then ask that my ‘current review’ include certain topics and that I produce to the subcommittee all information and documents related to my investigation.”
Nessel continued: “I am surprised that this subcommittee would send such a request to my office without first verifying the things that form the basis for your letter (for e.g. whether my office is in fact investigating and the scope of our alleged investigation).”
Nessel wrote she was “deeply troubled” the subcommittee only seemed worried about residents of long-term facilities in four specific states and “does not extend to all the nation’s elderly.”
Nessel noted Michigan had fewer numbers of COVID-19 cases in elderly care facilities than Louisiana, Ohio, Georgia and Texas, but the subcommittee did not send letters to the attorneys general of those states. She also stated Illinois, Massachusetts and Connecticut – states with Democratic governors – also reported higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in long-term residential facilities than Michigan.
“[S]ending a congressional inquiry only to one’s political opponents appears designed to produce salacious headlines rather than measurable results,” Nessel wrote.
The Democratic attorney general stated she wouldn’t conduct a criminal investigation of Whitmer’s executive orders based on her perception of the subcommittee’s partisanship.
– – –
Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.