Michigan attorney general investigating petition drive to strip Whitmer’s authority

A man signing something with a Michigan map.
A man signing something with a Michigan map.(WLUC/Canva)
Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 1:50 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into possible illegal activities by Unlock Michigan during the group’s ongoing statewide petition campaign.

Unlock Michigan is circulating petitions to repeal the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is using to issue coronavirus orders and continue Michigan’s State of Emergency. A repeal would remove some of her emergency authority and transfer some power back to the Legislature.

The group plans to turn in more than 500,000 petition signatures to the Michigan Bureau of Elections on Friday. That is much higher than the 340,000 signatures required for the Legislature to accept the repeal or put the issue up for a statewide vote.

Attorney General Dana Nessel is looking into whether Unlock Michigan’s petition circulators violated state laws by deceiving residents about the petitions would do. She received complaints from residents saying they were told the petitions support LGBTQ rights, medical marijuana initiatives and small businesses.

Nessel said the League of Women Voters and election law attorney John Pirich sent letters requesting the investigation.

“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. “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."

She did not announce a timeline for when the investigation will be completed. If investigators find wrongdoing, criminal charges may be filed against Unlock Michigan or its members.

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