Dana Nessel announces her bid to be Michigan Attorney General


Civil rights and criminal law attorney Dana Nessel announced on Tuesday that she is seeking the Michigan Democratic Party nomination for Attorney General for the 2018 election.

Nessel, who gained national recognition by representing two Hazel Park nurses who overturned Michigan’s ban on marriage between same-sex couples, vowed that she “will be an Attorney General for all people. I have been a tireless fighter for fairness, equality and justice. I will be an Attorney General using the strengths and skills I have acquired throughout my career as a lawyer, prosecutor and civil rights advocate.”

Nessel noted she is supremely qualified to become Attorney General, which is often called “Michigan’s top law enforcement officer,” based on her 24 years’ experience as prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and civil rights advocate.

For over a decade with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Nessel prosecuted many notorious murder cases. In the Child and Family Abuse Bureau, she prosecuted child sexual and physical abuse cases, including internet crimes, child homicides, and major offenses involving child witnesses. Nessel was also assigned to the Police Conduct Review Team, where she investigated and prosecuted the fatal and non-fatal shooting of civilians by police officers as well as all in-custody deaths that occurred in the local lock-up units and county jail of Wayne County. Nessel also worked in the Auto Theft Unit, and prosecuted major auto theft cases, and prosecutions under the RICO criminal enterprise statute.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy is one of the first public officials to endorse Nessel’s Attorney General bid. “I wholeheartedly support Dana Nessel’s candidacy. She has the breadth of experience, knowledge, and commitment to public service, to be an excellent Attorney General. As the Wayne County Prosecutor, and as a trial judge before that, I know Dana to be a tenacious but fair prosecutor, a committed advocate for victims of crime, and a tireless champion for civil rights for all the people.”

Nessel vowed that civil rights enforcement would become a paramount initiative of the Attorney General’s office. “Michigan is experiencing an epidemic of hate crimes, especially in the areas of race, sexual orientation, national origin, and gender identity. No Michigan resident should have to be afraid of violence and discrimination based on who they are. I will use every resource available in my office to fight this injustice wherever it arises.”

In 2016, Nessel formed a non-profit corporation, Fair Michigan Foundation, Inc., to fight discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Fair Michigan’s signature initiative, the Fair Michigan Justice Project, works with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate and prosecute crimes against members of Wayne County’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The project, which obtained nine convictions in its first eleven months, has been “so fruitful that we are seeking funding for another prosecutor and investigator," Prosecutor Worthy said in June.

Nessel also pledged to be a staunch advocate for Michigan’s environment, especially protection of the Great Lakes. Upon taking office, she intends to file a lawsuit to shut down Pipeline 5, the 64-year-old pipelines owned by the Canadian oil company Enbridge Corp., that carry approximately 22.7 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids per day under the Straits of Mackinac. She noted, “Cleanup or recovery from a pipeline spill would be especially difficult in this ecologically sensitive location. Michigan residents deserve and expect an Attorney General to protect them from an environmental calamity that would degrade or destroy the beautiful state they call home. The enforcement of environmental laws does not make it harder for Michigan companies to do business. Instead, it levels the playing field for all businesses, by ensuring that unscrupulous business owners do not gain an unfair advantage over their competitors by polluting Michigan’s environment without consequences.”

Nessel recognized the unique and vital relationship between the Attorney General’s office and law enforcement officers across the state. “Local and state police departments need and want additional training, enhanced support services, and advocacy for funding and personnel. I want to work with the Michigan State Police to broaden their ability to work with local law enforcement agencies. Michigan needs coordinated and effective resources to investigate computer crime, complex business fraud, and healthcare ripoffs.”

Ellis Stafford, a retired Deputy Chief of the Michigan State Police and president of the Metro Detroit Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Executives (NOBLE), endorsed Nessel’s bid for Attorney General. “Dana’s the real deal.” Stafford said. “She understands law enforcement, and she knows what needs to happen to improve both our response to crime and our relationship to the communities we serve and protect.”

Nessel is inspired by former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelly who, from 1961 to 1999, transformed the office into a force to bring justice to the people of Michigan.

“Rather than waste taxpayer money pursuing an ill-founded ideological agenda, I will use justice as my touchstone and guiding principle. Whether it’s consumer protection, elderlaw enforcement, addressing the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, or fighting to end bias against our most vulnerable and marginalized residents, I will seek, find, and implement new approaches which will make Michigan a model state for the protection and enhancement of its residents’ rights and freedoms.”