LANSING, Mich. — In the ongoing battle between Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the latest move has GOP lawmakers pushing to give funding to those who investigate her.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans passed a bill that would set aside $1.25 million for prosecutors who investigate the governor and her pandemic nursing home polices.
“There needs to be an investigation; we need to get to the bottom of it; the people of the state of Michigan want to have the answers. What happened to these patients? How did they die?” Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) said on the floor.
Under the proposal, a county prosecutor could get up to $250,000 from the state’s general fund to help with costs relating to the investigations. They would also be required to report back to the Legislature with how they used the money throughout the investigation.
Nursing home deaths make up about one third of all COVID-related deaths in Michigan, in line with the national rate, but Republicans have been calling for more data and investigations into whether Whitmer’s policies made things worse.
The Senate approved Thursday's bill on party lines, a little more than a week after Attorney General Dana Nessel said she would not launch a criminal investigation into the matter.
“We owe it to the grieving families of this state to get answers. This bill provides resources to the county prosecutors to do what our attorney general refuses to do: investigate the deaths of thousands of mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers,” Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) said.
Democratic lawmakers slammed the bill as a politically motivated waste of resources, not based in fact.
“Colleagues, I’d ask that we don’t spend money offering grants or bribes to local prosecutors to waste time or resources that should be spent on better things,” Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit) said.
“You cannot ask and put an appropriation subject to an investigation of your own political adversaries. No one in the world would take that seriously,” Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. said.
One county prosecutor, former Republican State Sen. Pete Lucido, has already opened an investigation into nursing home deaths, claiming his motives are not political.
The bill would have to be approved by the House and then signed by Governor Whitmer before it became law.