Questions for Governor Whitmer’s State of the State

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is scheduled to make her State of the State address on Wednesday and there are a number of topics we can expect to hear about. These include COVID-19 impacts on the economy, health and education systems, plans for the nearly $8 billion Michigan received from the federal infrastructure bill, and progress in Benton Harbor’s water crisis, among other hot topics.

But there’s one topic that most likely won’t be brought up: State Attorney General Dana Nessel’s continued missteps in wasting millions of tax dollars on politically motivated charges against former Governor Rick Snyder and eight others.

Though the media has carried numerous stories on her top prosecutor’s negligence and ineptitude, Governor Whitmer has remained silent on the issue and owes Michiganders some answers to some very important questions. Among them:

  • Did she speak with AG Nessel about Flint after local activist groups raised concerns over Nessel’s decision to throw out all the work done by former Attorney General Bill Schuette that cost state taxpayers millions of dollars?
  • Does she believe state employees have a right to attorney-client privilege or does she agree with the Attorney General’s office that they do not?
  • Is she concerned with the precedent being set in the Flint water case in terms of elected officials being charged with decisions made in an official capacity?
  • Has she heard from state employees or their union representatives about their feeling nervous regarding potential criminal charges for their decisions while working for the state?
  • Is she concerned about facing criminal charges over decisions made regarding Benton Harbor, Hamtramck, or other towns in Michigan facing drinking water issues after she leaves office? Is she concerned someone might use 20/20 hindsight to prosecute her over nursing home deaths related to COVID-19?
  • She is dealing with Benton Harbor just as Governor Snyder had to deal with Flint, so what is her plan to ensure the next Governor isn’t dealing with another water crisis in Michigan? Why has her response to Benton Harbor been so slow and inadequate given the aggressive template used by the prior administration in responding to the Flint crisis?

According to the Attorney General’s official website, her duties are to protect and serve the people of Michigan by safeguarding them from violent criminals, helping victims of crime, protecting consumers, and addressing illegal business practices, among others. What you won’t see on the list is attacking political opponents while attempting to undermine due process and strip them of their rights to a fair trial.

It’s time for this to end and Governor Whitmer knows it. The question is, will she address this when she talks about the state of the state – and the people who live here?