Michigan Attorney General is investigating threats against Republican canvassers

Attorney General Dana Nessel. - Michigan Attorney General's Office
Michigan Attorney General's Office
Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel confirmed on Tuesday that her office is actively investigating threats made against Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

A typically obscure body, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers found itself thrust into the national spotlight when its Republican members, Monica Palmer of Grosse Pointe Woods and William Hartmann of Wyandotte, made the unprecedented move to vote to not certify the county's election results, citing minor discrepancies in the tally of Detroit's votes. President Donald Trump's legal team had indicated that they sought to invalidate the vote in Detroit in an attempt to overturn the results of the election in Michigan, where Democrat Joe Biden won by some 150,000 votes.

After intense public backlash, including accusations that they were attempting to disenfranchise the nation's Blackest big city, the two Republicans changed their votes. But the next day, after Trump called, they attempted to rescind their votes to certify the results. At the time, Palmer said she felt pressured to certify, including threats from "Antifa of Grosse Pointe," leading to a deluge of memes.

The existence of a Grosse Pointe Antifa chapter may sound absurd, but the threats were reportedly credible enough for the Attorney General's office to get involved.

"We will investigate any credible complaints of threats to government officials, elected or appointed, and will prosecute criminal conduct to the fullest extent of the law," Nessel, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Serving the people – regardless of party – is an honorable but sometimes difficult and thankless task. And while many of us have been subjected to hateful and often obscene insults, threats of violence and harm will not be tolerated."

Nessel's office says its Criminal Investigations Division initiated its investigation shortly after last week's Board of Canvassers meeting. The office is encouraging "anyone with a specific complaint related to election fraud, misinformation, or threats against public officials" to report them to the office by email.

Trump's invitation for Michigan Republican leaders to come to the White House over the weekend led to fears that he would apply pressure for a similar partisan deadlock to happen at the Michigan Board of State Canvassers vote on Monday, and potentially cause a constitutional crisis — something one of the leaders, House Speaker Lee Chatfield, said could happen. But only one of the board's Republicans, Norm Shinkle, chose to abstain from the vote, while Aaron Van Langevelde voted with the board's two Democrats to certify the results.

"I don't know about my Democrat colleagues, but I know Aaron and I received quite a few comments, outright threats, nasty emails telling me my family's at risk," Shinkle told the Detroit Free Press. "I had one person even suggest simply, you got to vote yes to certify for the safety of your family." People have reportedly launched a smear campaign against his brother's flower shop, bombarding sites like Google and Yelp with negative reviews. Palmer also told the paper that she received "photos of dead, naked women and threats saying her daughter would be killed."

It's worth noting that the pressure isn't just coming from the left. The right-wing site The Gateway Pundit called Van Langevelde a "traitor" on Facebook for voting to certify.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers' vote to certify the results means Michigan's electors will cast the state's 16 Electoral College votes for Biden on Dec. 14.

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland “Lee” DeVito is the editor in chief of Detroit Metro Times since 2016. His writing has also been published in CREEM, VICE, In These Times, and New City. He once asked porn star Stormy Daniels to spank him with an issue of Metro Times. She obliged.

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