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Attorney General says office won’t defend public board members who don’t handle duties

State of Michigan

A letter today from Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office members of state boards who ignore their legal responsibilities won’t get state legal assistance.

Democratic state Senator Jeremy Moss requested the letter. Moss says he’s particularly concerned about whether Republicans on the Board of State Canvassers will certify the results of the November elections. The letter is not a formal interpretation of state law or policy. But Moss says the letter “sends a signal” to the board.

“And if they don’t perform what is their ministerial duty in certifying an election, they could deal with penalties from that.” said Moss.

But it’s the attorney general who will decide whether the board fulfilled its responsibilities under the law. A Republican on the board calls that an “insidious method of intimidation.”

Tony Daunt is a Republican on the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, which has that responsibility. He says the letter amounts to a threat against members of public boards who don’t comply with the wishes of the attorney general.

“I think it’s a particularly insidious method of intimidation in essentially seeking to weaponize the powers of government to go after people who disagree with you on a matter of policy or law.” said Daunt.