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Shirkey teams up with Unlock Michigan to ‘put pressure’ on Whitmer over COVID-19 restrictions

By: - December 21, 2020 2:05 pm

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey | Senate GOP photo

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), who continues to rally against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 orders — even after similar rhetoric led to a foiled terrorist plot to murder Whitmer and take state officials hostage — has appeared to teamed up with the right-wing Unlock Michigan campaign to mount further pressure on the governor.

“Michigan citizens are at their limit,” Shirkey wrote in a Friday email sent by Unlock Michigan. “…We’re going to come out on the other side of this virus but jobs will be eliminated, businesses will be closed, livelihoods will be destroyed and lives will be lost because of Gretchen Whitmer. Enough is enough.”

After arguing that COVID-19 business restrictions should be lifted because residents should be “trusted” to not spread the virus, Shirkey adds: “Gretchen Whitmer is the only thing standing in the way.”

As of Saturday, there are 458,852 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan, 11,461 related deaths and thousands more probable cases. The state is currently experiencing its worst spike in cases yet. 

The Unlock Michigan group, headed by GOP consultant Fred Wszolek, is currently the subject of an investigation by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office. That inquiry was launched in September over allegations that the anti-Whitmer group may have engaged in criminal activity to gather more signatures for their petition drive to limit her powers.

Nessel spokesperson Ryan Jarvi said Monday that the “investigation is ongoing and we have nothing else to offer on that.”

Unlock Michigan’s petition drive ultimately seeks to repeal one of the two Michigan laws Whitmer had used for months to keep Michigan in a state of emergency during COVID-19: The Emergency Powers of Governor Act (EPGA).

A narrow GOP majority of the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in October that the EPGA is, in fact, unconstitutional, although the opinion found that Whitmer had been interpreting the law correctly.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has since issued numerous epidemic orders to fill in the gaps created by the Supreme Court ruling.

Unlock Michigan was unfazed by the ruling on the EPGA, citing concerns about a future “liberal” court reversing the decision, and vowed to fight to “keep [the 1945 law] dead.”

The group said it turned in nearly 540,000 signatures to the Michigan Bureau of Elections on Oct. 2. The process of reviewing and verifying the signatures will likely be finished by mid-January.

Unlock Michigan campaign forges on, even after Supreme Court ruling

If certified, the measure would go to the GOP-led state Legislature for approval. Whitmer would not have veto power.

After Shirkey’s message, the Unlock Michigan campaign email ends with a call to “put pressure on the Governor” by contacting her office and tagging her on social media.

“She needs to hear and feel the pressure from Michigan citizens,” the email reads.

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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).