Senate Republicans OK $1.25M for prosecutors if they investigate Whitmer nursing home policies

By: - March 26, 2021 11:06 am

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

On the last day of session before a two-week break, the GOP-led Michigan Senate on Thursday adopted a bill that would set aside grant money for local prosecutors who investigate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s nursing home policies.

Senate Bill 27, sponsored by Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), would appropriate $1.25 million for Fiscal Year 2021 ending Sept. 30. From those funds, the Department of Treasury would provide grants of up to $250,000 to county prosecutors who seek to “fund an appropriate and reasonable investigation” into the Whitmer administration’s nursing home policies and the COVID-19 data associated with the facilities.

The legislation passed along party lines, 20-15.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in legislation in my life,” said state Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing), while sharply criticizing SB 27 in a floor speech.

Attorney General Dana Nessel declined last week to investigate the matter, citing a lack of evidence, no specific allegations of wrongdoing and clear partisan motivations. She also called the investigation launched by GOP Macomb County Prosecutor and former state Sen. Peter Lucido a “recipe for misconduct.”

Both Hertel and state Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) offered amendments to the bill, both of which failed along party lines.

“Republicans have been looking for a smoking gun on Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes, and the data doesn’t indicate there is one,” Brinks said, referencing an MLive article debunking many of Republicans’ claims about Whitmer’s nursing home policies.

4.7K deaths, more than 48.3K cases of COVID-19 reported in Michigan

Brinks said the Legislature should instead focus on allocating more federal COVID-19 funds to Michiganders.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald are reportedly against the bill, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Never in my long career has someone told me, ‘Here’s some money. Now go find a crime that fits in this little box,'” Worthy said on Thursday. “… I’m not going to be bribed.”

“We’re facing an all-time high in murders and violent crime, in the nation and throughout the state,” said McDonald. “… I honestly don’t know how he [Lucido] has time for this. It’s like his house is on fire, and he’s standing on his front lawn looking for something to do.”

Grants provided to county prosecutors under the legislation must only be used to support the costs of the investigations described in this section, SB 27 reads, and goes on to require that county prosecutors with grants provide the Senate and House appropriations committees with quarterly updates on how the money has been spent.

Republicans on Thursday also passed Senate Bill 250 along party lines, which would tie restaurant and event venue capacity limits to COVID-19 rates.

Both bills now move to the House.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).