AG Nessel Opens Investigation Into Unlock Michigan
Unlock Michigan, the petition drive to repeal the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, is under attack by the Whitmer administration and her supporters.
Unlock Michigan said last week that they had collected far more than the 340,000 required signatures. Spokesman Ron Armstrong estimates they’ll have as many as 515,000.
But today, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she is opening an investigation into Unlock Michigan following allegations that members associated with the group may have engaged in criminal activity in collecting petition signatures to repeal state law.
Fred Wszolek of Unlock Michigan said he's not surprised by the action.
“It’s a partisan political farce, which is to be expected from this partisan political Attorney General.”
Armstong said it's not going to stop the momentum they've built.
"This sham investigation is designed to deprive Michigan citizens of their constitutional right to initiate legislation, but we’re not going to allow that to happen."
A release from General Nessel’s office said “recent media reports have also revealed what appears to be at least one official working for the Unlock Michigan campaign who was training petition circulators and suggested they use deceptive and potentially illegal tactics to gain signatures for the ballot initiative.”
But Armstrong said Friday that issue may well have been a setup perpetrated by an employee of a contractor hired to gather some signatures. He said the employee usually works on behalf of liberal-driven petition drives in California, and he believes a filmed incident may have been staged to discredit Unlock Michigan. Media reports about behavior by that contractor have resulted in the League of Women Voters, and others, writing letters to the AG, expressing concern and asking for an investigation.
Armstrong said Friday that their organization is not going to pay that subcontractor, and says very few petition signatures should even be called into question as a result.
The Attorney General’s office says they have received complaints from some residents who report they were deceived by petition circulators who were gathering. They allege that they were told the petitions were to support LGBTQ rights, for medical marijuana initiatives, or to help small businesses, among other things.
Many who oppose the action to repeal the 1945 law are hoping the state will drag its feet on validating the signatures and sending the issue to the legislature for a vote, or at least until January when the democrats might gain a majority. It appears that the investigation could accomplish delaying the vote by lawmakers.
“My office will investigate these allegations, and if there is a violation of law, we will prosecute those responsible,” said Nessel. The release went on to say “Any potential charges that may be filed against Unlock Michigan and its members will depend on whether criminal activity took place and the evidence compiled by the Attorney General’s office in its investigation. Additional information and details about the investigation may be released at a later date. “
Possibly a much later date.