In most cases, Democrats refuse to hold members of their own party responsible for their actions. This case is no different, as the call for an investigation into Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer‘s handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic has been rejected by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a close ally of Whitmer.
According to Nessel, an investigation into Whitmer, whose nursing home policy closely resembled that of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, would “abuse the investigatory powers of this Department.”
Calls For An Investigation
In late February, letters were sent to Nessel and the Department of justice by Michigan state senators, including Republican Senator Jim Runestad. “Gov. Whitmer’s regional hub policy placed patients with and without COVID-19 in the same facilities and may have exacerbated the death toll in those facilities. Questions remain regarding the accuracy of data, compliance with CDC guidelines and compliance with our state’s Freedom of Information Act. There is a critical need for a full investigation into these matters,” Runestad stated.
The Detroit News explained:
Whitmer’s administration created 21 regional hubs in April to help care for nursing homes residents with COVID-19. The hubs were existing nursing homes that were supposed to have the isolated space, equipment and personnel to care for those with COVID-19 who were being discharged from hospitals or resided in other facilities that couldn’t properly handle them.
But Republican lawmakers repeatedly called for the creation of entirely separate facilities to care for those with the coronavirus to stem its spread among a vulnerable population. Nearly half of the nursing homes that Michigan initially selected to serve as regional hubs to care for elderly individuals with COVID-19 had below-average quality ratings from the federal government.
This mishandling of COVID is disturbing, but the fact that they refuse to investigate it is even worse.
Response From Nessel
On March 15, Nessel released a statement rejecting calls for an investigation, writing, “I see no evidence in your letter or elsewhere to suggest that Governor Whitmer’s efforts to contain COVID-19 in Michigan’s nursing homes resulted in increased deaths. To the contrary, a recent report by the Center for Health and Research Transformation at the University of Michigan concluded that, overall, Michigan’s strategy to contain COVID-19 nursing homes ‘performed well.’”
“There is no information in your letter to distinguish your observations from anything more than good faith reporting errors — if errors at all,” Nessel added. “If reporting guidance from the state or federal governments has been confusing or incomplete, an investigation by the state’s top law enforcement official is not the appropriate remedial mechanism to improve policy in this regard.”
“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 on any state official, regardless of party or beliefs,” she continued.
“I appreciate that you and your colleagues have policy disagreements with Governor Whitmer’s response to COVID-19. But an investigation by my office is not the mechanism to resolve those disagreements. You have provided insufficient indicia that any law has been violated and thus no investigation is warranted at this time,” Nessel concluded.
Senator Runstad responded to Nessel’s statement on March 16, hinting at the possibility of appointing a special prosecutor to conduct the investigation that Whitmer’s allies in the Attorney General’s office refuse to conduct.
“I think we’re going to have to do some things with the budget whether it’s funding a special prosecutor or we’re talking about a lot of different issues right now in terms of what we can do because the people of the State of Michigan need to have answers… There are so many families that want to get to the bottom of the data, what happened with this decision to put COVID infected patients in with uninfected patients in a nursing home. Only five states did this and this was a disastrous policy,” he wrote.
The Bottom Line
Governor Whitmer is responsible for these deaths, but her administration refuses to release the data that will confirm it. Despite multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the numbers are still being hidden from the public. Conservative comedian Steven Crowder was one of the first people to call Whitmer out for her policies, even holding a rally in Michigan’s capital to call for transparency:
As the governor’s Democrat allies refuse to even conduct an investigation, it seems that appointing a special prosecutor is the only way to find out what really happened. Hopefully, Michigan Republicans will stand up for the elderly victims of Whitmer’s policies, and hold their governor accountable.