Michigan AG launches investigation into petition campaign to repeal Whitmer's emergency powers

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Demonstrators in Lansing protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency powers during coronavirus. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Demonstrators in Lansing protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency powers during coronavirus.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is launching a criminal investigation into alleged illegal activity by a right-wing group circulating petitions to repeal the law that allows Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to impose restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The probe comes a week after a secret recording revealed that a California company coached petitioners on how to illegally gather signatures. The illegal tactics included gathering signatures without witnessing them, circulating petitions on private property, deceiving voters, and committing perjury, according to a secretly recorded videotape of a training session on Sept. 4.



Nessel’s office also is investigating numerous complaints that signature gatherers are using “deceptive tactics” to get signatures. In one complaint, a woman said a circulator approached her at the Eastern Market in Detroit and told her the petition was to support the LGBTQ+ community. Other people reported they were told the petitions were helping small businesses or supporting medical marijuana initiatives.

“Our democracy is firmly rooted in the principles of an informed electorate which makes decisions at the polls based on reason and beliefs over lies and deception,” Nessel said in a statement. “Our ballot initiative process allows efforts with strong public support to be presented to the Legislature. But that process becomes tainted when petition circulators manipulate and cheat to serve their own agendas. My office will investigate these allegations, and if there is a violation of law, we will prosecute those responsible.”



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