Democratic Nominee for Attorney General Dana Nessel Joins Detroit Today

Nessel responds to reports of a toxic campaign office and says she’s willing to revisit charges against Gov. Snyder in Flint Water Crisis.

Jake Neher/WDET

Michigan will elect a new attorney general in November, to replace Bill Schuette who is term-limited after eight years.

Democratic nominee Dana Nessel joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about her campaign.

“I think I have the most varied experience out of anybody who is running for this position,” says Nessel, who has served as an assistant prosecutor, a civil rights attorney, and an attorney for indigent defendants.

She also represented the lesbian couple from Michigan whose case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in the decision that legalized gay marriage across the United States.

Nessel now runs the President of the Fair Michigan Foundation, which she describes as “a first-of-it’s-kind anti-hate crime task force.”

On reports of high staff turnover and that she has run a toxic campaign office

A number of former staffers have told media outlets in Lansing they left the Nessel campaign because she was verbally abusive toward them. Nessel denies those claims, and calls the resulting criticism a distraction from the issues.

“I do dispute that,” says Nessel. “I’ve had a lot of volunteers work on the campaign and I’ve had a lot of people come and go for short periods of time on the campaign who were volunteers. And I announced in August of 2017, so that’s quite a long time that I’ve been running.”

“I have an excellent reputation as an attorney. Twenty-five years, I have never been grieved — not once — I have never been sued. I would challenge you to find any other attorney who can say they’ve been practicing that long and has handled as many cases as I’ve handled — And if you talk to the judges that I’ve appeared in front of, if you talk to my co-counsel on cases, if you talk to my opposing counsel, they will all tell you the same thing, which is that I have a very good reputation in regards to my ethics and in regards to my temperament.”

On ongoing investigations into the Flint Water Crisis

“I do not believe that these cases have been handled correctly,” says Nessel, who thinks special prosecutor Todd Flood may have conflicts of interest.

She says she would also “not hesitate to bring charges in the event that there’s anyone who should have been charged, but hasn’t.”

Nessel says that could include Gov. Rick Snyder.

“Whether or not there are bad actors that should have been charged or not, including the governor, I think that has to be reevaluated and reexamined,” she says.

On the recent deal struck between Gov. Snyder and Enbridge to replace Line 5 under the Mackinac Straits

Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration announced an agreement with Enbridge, the owners of the decades old Line 5 pipeline. The plan is to have a new pipeline built under about 100 feet of bedrock through the Straits of Mackinac with a tunnel around the line. Enbridge would pick up the multi-million dollar price tag to build and maintain the line and tunnel for the duration of a 99 year lease.

“I find it curious that Snyder is so anxious to get a deal like this orchestrated before he leaves office,” says Nessel. “For him to make this concerted effort for a deal that is as extensive as that in the hurried manner in which he’s doing it…the whole thing is very curious to me.”

Nessel has vowed to file “on day one” as attorney general to file to shut down Line 5, and that stance hasn’t changed with the announcement of the deal to replace the stretch under the Straits of Mackinac.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Earlier this week, Stephen Henderson spoke with independent candidate Chris Graveline. Click here to hear and read about that conversation.

Republican nominee state House Speaker Tom Leonard has refused to join Detroit Today before the November election, despite numerous and open-ended requests.


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