Nessel Announces Inquiry Into Canvasser Threats

Nov 25, 2020

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel
Credit State of Michigan / michigan.gov

State Attorney General Dana Nessel says her office has opened a criminal inquiry and is “actively investigating” whether members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers were the targets of illegal harassment as they met to certify the results of the November 3rd election.


Nessel says the inquiry will focus first on complaints by a Republican board member her life and her family’s safety was threatened.  That was during and after a contentious meeting on certifying election results from Detroit and the rest of Wayne County.

“If you are serving in office, whether you’re are elected, whether you are appointed, it shouldn’t matter,” she said.  “You should not be subjected to threats on your life.  Period.”

One of the Republican Wayne County canvassers outlined threats made against her and her family both during and after a contentious meeting where the online reactions where often angry and threatening.  The GOP members of the board at first refused to certify, then voted to certify the results from Detroit and the rest of the county, and then later tried without success to reverse that decision.

Nessel – a Democrat -- said she’s ready to prosecute any credible threats.

She says posts and messages that protest particular actions are allowed, but not intimidation “… and public officials should never have to make decisions under the threat or fear of violence to themselves or to their family members.” 

Nessel says potential charges could include threatening behavior or cyberbullying.  She says the behavior alleged in this case also undermines confidence in decisions made by public officials, whether they’re elected or serving in appointed positions.

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org