Daily Briefs

Long-time capital insider retires from state government

One of Michigan’s longest-serving capital city insiders – Kelly Keenan – is retiring from state government today following decades of experience in Lansing.

Keenan left his private sector consulting firm to assist newly elected Attorney General Dana Nessel when she took office on Jan. 1, 2019. He served as her deputy attorney general until October 2020, when he moved to the position of special adviser to the Attorney General. 

“At my request, Kelly returned to the department where he has spent decades of his career, assisting me during the first two years of my tenure,” Nessel said. “His institutional knowledge of the department has been highly valuable and I am grateful for his service."

An attorney himself, Keenan’s credentials are legendary, as are his deep roots in state government. Keenan started his career in the Michigan Senate, working for state Sen. Jerry Hart, D-Saginaw, before heading to the office of Attorney General Frank Kelley in 1984.  Keenan served in a variety of positions and roles for Kelley, and then continued to serve the department as deputy attorney general for external affairs when Jennifer Granholm led the Michigan Department of Attorney General (1999-2003). When Granholm was elected governor in 2002, Keenan followed, serving as her legal counsel throughout her tenure. He served on both Nessel’s and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s transition teams in 2018 as both women prepared to take office.

“It has been an honor to assist Attorney General Nessel in establishing her office,” Keenan said. “Attorney General Nessel is carrying on in the tradition of Attorney General Kelley and Granholm as a proactive people's lawyer protecting consumers, the environment, civil rights, crime victims and workers. The people are fortunate in these times to have such a dedicated public official as Dana Nessel."


Felony charges filed against man for allegedly making bomb threat state Capitol

A man who reportedly threatened to kill a state representative has now been charged with multiple felonies after he allegedly made a threatening phone call last Thursday claiming there was a bomb at the Michigan Capitol building. Authorities quickly determined the bomb threat to be false.?

Following an investigation and arrest by the Michigan State Police (MSP), Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office has charged a Charlotte man with felony terrorism charges.

Michael Varrone, 48, was arrested outside his residence last Thursday afternoon without incident by the MSP Emergency Support Team and Fugitive Team. 

He was arraigned last Friday before Magistrate Laura Millmore in 54-A District Court in Lansing. The court set Varrone’s bond at $50,000 cash.

“Threats to our democracy must not be tolerated, and my office will work tirelessly to ensure the people who work and visit our Capitol can do so safely,” Nessel said.

Varrone has a probable cause conference scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 22 and a preliminary exam scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 28. Both hearings will be before Judge Kristen Simmons.


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