Advance Notice: Briefs

DOJ won’t investigate Whitmer’s nursing home COVID policies

By: - July 26, 2021 6:57 am

Joe DiSano photo

The U.S. Department of Justice will not investigate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, per a letter obtained by the Michigan Advance. 

State and federal Republican lawmakers had called for investigations into Democratic governors’ policies, but not Republican governors. Whitmer said the requests were politically motivated. Republicans have opposed her health restrictions to stop the virus’ spread.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel this year declined GOP lawmakers’ requests to investigate, citing a lack of evidence.

“I see no evidence in your letter or elsewhere to suggest that Governor Whitmer’s efforts to contain COVID-19 in Michigan’s nursing homes resulted in increased deaths,” Nessel said, noting that a recent University of Michigan Center for Health and Research Transformation report concluded otherwise compared to the U.S. average.

However, DOJ officials during the Trump administration had asked for documents from the Whitmer administration and other Democratic governors to help determine whether to open an investigation under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).

In a letter dated Thursday from Steven H. Rosenbaum, chief of the DOJ Special Litigation Section, wrote: “We have reviewed the information you provided along with additional information available to the Department. Based on that review, we have decided not to open a CRIPA investigation of any public nursing facility within Michigan at this time.”

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.

Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 22-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQ+ people, the state budget, the economy and more. She previously served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 90 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 5,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 80 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two kids along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.