Podcast: A Conversation with Attorney General Dana Nessel
In this episode of our Public Policy & Regulation Group's "Conversations with State Attorneys General" podcast series, attorney Stephen Cobb talks with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel about her work in the office. Ms. Nessel shares her experience as a state official in Michigan during 2020, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and a turbulent election cycle. She highlights the threat of domestic terrorism both in Michigan and nationwide, and discusses election integrity and the turmoil experienced in the state of Michigan last year. Their conversation also touches on consumer protection, securities enforcement, climate change, criminal justice reform, robocalls and more.
We apologize for the poor sound quality in this episode, our team faced unexpected technical issues that have since been resolved. We hope you find this conversation as informative and helpful as the other episodes in our State Attorneys General series. Please connect with Stephen Cobb should you have any questions about our State Attorneys General Practice.
Stephen Cobb: Welcome to another installment of Holland & Knight's Eyes on Washington podcast, State Attorney General edition. I'm Stephen Cobb, I'm a Partner on our Public Policy and Regulatory team and I co-chair our State Attorneys General practice. It is my pleasure to welcome to our podcast today the Attorney General of the Great State of Michigan, Dana Nessel.
Dana Nessel: Happy to be here.
Path to the Michigan AG's Office
Stephen Cobb: Thanks so much. Can you tell us a little bit of background about you and kind of your path that led to your decision to run for AG and some of the priorities you taken on thus far.
Dana Nessel: Sure. Well, I started out my career as a criminal prosecutor and I worked for the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office, which is where Detroit is centered. I worked there for over a decade, went into private practice from there, where I did a few different things: criminal defense, a lot of work representing indigent defendants and a lot of civil rights work as well. I think what I'm most remembered for in Michigan was the DeBoer v. Snyder, which was the challenge to bans on same sex marriage and adoption by same sex couples and LGBTQ people in Michigan, and we brought that case in 2012. And ultimately, it ended up been consolidated into the sixth circuit cases that made its way to the Supreme Court in 2015 and Obergefell v. Hodges and the same attorney from our case, who argued that seminal case, which of course, legalized same sex marriage nationwide. But I had a number of things I was involved in, I had a non-profit that I started that focused on hate crimes and we actually had our own investigators and prosecutors and we would partner with different prosecutors offices to combat the exponential rise in hate crimes and assist county prosecutors with that.
And then when I ran for office in 2018, that was the first time I had run for any state office at all, and I did so for a number of reasons. But I would say, firstly, I got tired of suing the state of Michigan and thought it would be nice instead just to represent the state of Michigan and to follow the policies and practices that I thought most benefit the people of my state. But also, I was highly influenced by the election of Donald Trump, like a lot of people like a lot of progressive women like myself, especially in our state, where we have elected so many progressive women.
Stephen Cobb: You know, from having served in an AG office myself, to now leading a specialized team as the AG practice, one of the things that has really resonated with me over the last five to ten years, I think certainly the country in the last 10 to 20 is to see the increasing role that state attorneys general play in every facet of regulatory enforcement, as well as just general leadership in the political arena. On the regulatory front, we've seen tens of billions of dollars in settlements and fines nationwide over the last 15 to 20 years. And there really just isn't a facet of industry or life that AGs can't take a leadership role in, and I think that's only become more so in the last five to ten years. I'm not sure anyone could have expected to have to deal with some of the issues that you and some of your fellow AGs had to deal with during the 2020 cycle. And I know that when it came to the protection of election officials and the integrity of the election in general, you know, Michigan bore the brunt of some of the more scarier aspects of that experience. Can you tell us a little bit about what that was like for you as attorney general. Both personally and as kind of the umbrella that you serve to protect state officials.
Election Integrity During 2020 & The Threat of Domestic Terrorism
Dana Nessel: Yeah. Well, it was a very difficult time. And unfortunately, that time has not ended. That time is still here. But what we saw during 2020. You know, with the spread of COVID. And as a result, with the Governor having to sign a number of different executive orders to control the spread of COVID and to protect people in our state, you know, you had a lot of pushback. And it was a confluence of events. On one hand, you had the President and you know, Republicans who did not want to have any kind of a lockdown irrespective of how many people died, in fact many people who didn't believe that COVID was real, or compare d to the flu. With respect to the fact that in Michigan we lost over 21,000 people in our state alone. So the Governor was signing more and more directives with a very uncooperative Legislature. We have strange dynamics in our state due to gerrymandering, so we have a very far right-wing Legislature, but we have very progressive female Democrats that hold our executive offices. And so there was not a lot of continuity or cooperation and we have a history, very unfortunately, of domestic terrorist groups in our state. And you might remember from the 1990s Timothy McVey, his origins started with the Michigan militia. And so you had the rise of these groups, which frankly, you had an exponential rise in these groups anyway, briefly, during the Obama years, you started to see them come into existence again and then membership increase. So, those events together really create, and I would say the Black Lives Matter movement as well, the George Floyd murder tossed in there. All of these events, really were the perfect storm and so you saw what I believe to be the precursor to the events of January 6th at our nation’s Capital occurred on April 30th, 2020 in the state of Michigan, when you had protestors take over our state legislature.
And you know, what people I don't think appreciate is that there was a plan for mass execution that day. Now, you know, if you hear about the plot to kidnap and execute Governor Whitmer, you will see that there was an initial plot to take over the Capitol and to start killing people. And that basically it was not coordinated enough that anyone actually starting the shooting, but they were prepared to do that. So, you know, you had the necessity, I created a hate crimes and domestic terrorism unit and we had to pursue a number of different cases and that includes threats, continual threats to everyone from the President, the Governor, Senator Stabenow, judges, Board of Education members, Border of Canvassers members in counties. I mean, the list goes on and on. And I've had to be very aggressive in terms of pursuing those cases, because I don't want people to think that this is just a cost of doing business if you decide to take either an appointed or run for an elected position in government. I want people to know that no matter who you threaten, whether it's your neighbor, whether it's your co-worker, or whether it is your government official it is illegal and you will be held accountable for it. So that's become a big part of my job.
The other part of 2020 of course was defending democracy in our elections. And as many people know, in Michigan, Joe Biden received 154,000 more votes than Donald Trump. And yet, the gymnastics we had to go through legally in order to preserve, Joe Biden's win were enormous. We were hit with lawsuit after lawsuit starting before the election: voter suppression efforts, during the election: threats at the polls and then following the elections. And some of the bigger more noteworthy cases, of course, the Krakens case, Sidney Powell and her lawsuits, certainly Attorney General Ken Paxton's lawsuit against the state of Michigan, as well as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia. I think that in my lifetime I never ever expected to see, but we did, and we were successful, but I really believe it serves as a blueprint for the next election and really exposed the weaknesses in our democracy so that those who want to destroy it understand just how easy it is to do and what they have to do next time in order to undermine our electoral system. We're seeing it being shredded everyday by people who simply don't want a system where everyone who's legally eligible gets an opportunity to vote. And where the person who receives the most votes is declared the winner. And it's really tragic for our system and it's resulted in really erosion of I think you hold sacred here in the United States of America and I fear for our future.
I really believe it serves as a blueprint for the next election and really exposed the weaknesses in our democracy so that those who want to destroy it understand just how easy it is to do and what they have to do next time in order to undermine our electoral system.
Stephen Cobb: Two questions, one how do we continue to recruit good people to serve on those local electoral boards or canvassing boards? These aren't positions that are necessarily paying a lot of money, people are doing it out of civic integrity and if they are being threatened, you know I think it's a serious cautionary tale that we want good people in these positions and how do you balance that with making them feel safe and appreciated. Question two, and you started to hit on this, and it's not just in Michigan, you know, the 2020 cycle there was a particular focus on Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona and to maybe a slightly lesser extent, Nevada. You know, these issues are ripe for another 20 states to have to deal with. So what can attorneys general do to improve that process? Are there tools that you and your colleagues need that you don't already have? Well, I guess the simple question is - what can be done?
Dana Nessel: Well, first I try to do is to take each and every situation where you have a threat, one of those officials can handle it in a very serious manner to ensure that people know that there will be accountability and that you can't just get away with these threats. Now, my office is only so large and we do have a state of 10 million people. And so, you know, you really need participation by local law enforcement and the county prosecutors as well, who are sometimes more reluctant to charge those cases, unfortunately. And due to the influx of cases that we were looking at during the election time period, I actually had to enroll professors that worked at Vera State University, which has their own cybersecurity program to, you know, draft an MOU with them to assist us in helping us track where some of these threats, were coming from, in concert with law enforcement, because we didn't have the staff to do it. There are so many threats that were coming in all the time and my perspective was you know, enforcement of the law would be the way that we ensure these threats didn't continue to occur. I would say, I wouldn't mind seeing accelerated penalties as it pertains to election workers or other types of government officials. Generally speaking, they're not treated differently than anybody else, but at this point, they are more a threat than the regular public and if we're going to ask people to serve in these roles, we have to we absolutely have to have them know that they are going to be protected. And in fact, in Kent County, where Grand Rapids is located, we had the county public health director basically say, you know, when folks talked about firing him, he's like, "Fire me. I'll quit." I mean, you know, we have a system in place, I mean of course, the Governor has an executive protection detail, but we don't have that for county public health officials, and their lives are being threatened just as much, if not to a greater extent because people see that they're more exposed. I mean, let's be clear about what a scary time this is for elected officials. And for anyone seemingly who disagrees with the decisions of a select few. And that is not the way that America has worked historically it's not the way our democracy has operated. And we have to take these threats incredibly seriously. We can't have a system in place where one party supports the notion that you can threaten the lives of elected and appointed officials. It's not tenable, it's not sustainable and our country won't survive this.
We have a system in place, I mean of course, the Governor has an executive protection detail, but we don't have that for county public health officials, and their lives are being threatened just as much, if not to a greater extent because people see that they're more exposed.
Combatting Domestic Terrorism
Stephen Cobb: One of the things you talked about is making sure that these individuals are prosecuted so people understand the gravity of the words and actions. Are the laws in the books enough right now to match up with the type of conduct that we're talking about? I know I've gotten questions from friends and colleagues when they talk about January 6th and they see that people aren't being charged with trespassing or sort of misconduct, which doesn't always match people's reaction to what they saw on television. So do you think there needs to be a change in the law, do you think there is adequate protection for those type of prosecutions now? Or does there need to be change and if so, what is that change?
Dana Nessel: Well, there's a very big difference between Michigan law and the federal law. And very sadly, we don't really have domestic terrorism laws on the books. We have lots of foreign terrorism, laws on the books, but not domestic terrorism. Fortunately we do in Michigan. So you saw once again, the plot involving those who wanted to harm Governor Whitmer. If you notice there were, you know, about half the charges were brought federally and the other half were brought by the state. And the reason why half were brought by the state, I don't think it was because the feds didn't want to bring it, it was because they couldn't bring those cases because they did not have adequate laws to address the behavior of those defendants, as egregious as it was. And so I testified before the subcommittee on Homeland Security and Domestic Terrorism. And that's what I was urging Congress to do, is to allow us to have the same sort of protections when it comes to domestic terrorism, as we do for foreign actors who commit the exact same acts. And you have to recognize what the FBI has recognized, Homeland Security has recognized and that is that domestic terrorism poses more of a threat to Americans now than foreign terrorism does. And so we need those changes in the law and until we understand and recognize those threats, we're going to remain in a state of peril. The problem is, and I'm can talk again about the hearing wherein I testified, despite the effort of the National Association of Attorneys General, to find AGs and find county prosecutors and DAs of both parties to testify, every single witness who testified was a Democrat. You could not find one Republican AG in the United States despite the fact that they have, you know, over half the state AG positions, could not find one who would even concede that domestic terrorism was a problem in the United States. And taking you back again to 1994 in Oklahoma City, each and every attorney general at that point recognized that domestic terrorism was a problem, they didn't like it, they didn't support it, and they were going to work vigorously to combat it. And you fast forward to 2021, we don't have that anymore. We have one party that's fighting domestic terrorism and another party that seems to encourage it. And in fact you know, you know that the Republican Attorneys General Association played a role in the January 6th insurrection. I'm terrified that you have, you know, top law enforcement official in dozens of states that seemingly doesn't necessarily believe what happened on January 6th was such a tragic event. And doesn't believe domestic terrorism is a problem, and seemingly in many instances doesn't want to combat these kinds of threats against public officials. I don't understand. I don't think it's very law and order-y. I have been working in the criminal justice system now for decades, and I've worked with many incredible, you know, whether they were assistant attorneys general, whether they were you know assisting prosecuting attorneys of both parties and always seen them equally enforce the law. And this is the first time I've ever seen there be such partisanship in terms of civil law enforcement. And it is scary as hell to me. In Michigan, we have these so-called constitutional sheriffs that believe that they get to make up the law, they get to decide what is constitutional, these are people who have never been to law school, largely. And even when the courts rule in a particular way, saying, for instance, that something is constitutional they'll come out and say, well I don't think it is and perform a citizen's arrest, which is terrifying. We had a county sheriff that stood on a stage with militia members that were charged with the effort to kidnap and kill the Governor and make jokes about running over the Governor was a bus. And that was the local sheriff who since he made those remarks, has been reelected. And that is terrifying to me.
Multistate Actions and Consumer Protection Enforcement
Stephen Cobb: That's scary times. I'm going to make a hard and not smooth at all pivot. I want to talk a bit about the civil enforcement responsibilities you have. One of the great powers state AGs have is when they band together and do multistates. We've seen more and more over the years and years and in particular within the last 16 months in the areas of consumer protection and antitrust. Where do you see that field coming in, or how have your priorities changed on consumer protection and antitrust, as you've taken office? And where do you see that field going?
Dana Nessel: Well in regard consumer protection, you know this was one of my main goals when I ran for this office was to really enhance our consumer protection division and to escalate the number of cases that we brought in order to protect consumers. Quite honestly, and I apologize for how partisan this conversation is, however, there were 16 years of Republicans prior to me taking office and I inherited an office of a incredible man by the name of Frank Kelly who we lost this last year at age 95. He was state attorney general in Michigan for thirty seven and a half years. And I think he's largely credited with creating the consumer protection units that we see not just in state of Michigan, but all over the United States, those types of businesses didn't exist before he created that in office. I guess when you're state AG for thirty seven and a half years you have plenty of time to decide what your priorities are actually move forward on them. That's not the case in Michigan anymore, we have term limits of maximum of eight years. So I don't hope ever that I could possibly leave the kind of legacy that Frank Kelly had, but I really wanted to increase and enhance protections for consumers. So we created a number of new initiatives in the office, many, many of them. We have an anti robocalling unit, that was something I'm sure many years ago nobody thought that we would have a need for. We have a division of the office that, you know, obviously, for many years, we've tried to go after bad actors who have stolen people's identities, we've seen an escalation certainly during COVID while people are doing most of their work in banking and other kinds of transactions, purchasing online, we've seen an increase in identity theft. So not only are we pursuing those cases heavily. We also created a unit to assist people once they've been victimized to help them to restore their credit and their good name. We created an elder abuse task force. And the reason why that's so important, it's not just because we have so many incidences of elder abuse and neglect, but so many involving economic exploitation. So we have a whole slew of new laws which I'm hoping are going to be passed that will help protect seniors who are being economically exploited in a number of ways. And, in 2019, when it was still ok to do this, I did 65 senior town halls to explain to seniors how they could prevent being taken advantage of. In terms of coalescing with other AGs across the nation, I find that to be incredibly helpful. And you know, the long and the short of it is I only have so many people on staff at my office.
You know, I've really enjoyed working with some of the larger states that have more bandwidth than we do. I've worked closely with New York and California who have led many of these issues, but not just that. I mean many of other states have been very active in this space. So whether they're investigations into Facebook or Google or other large companies where there are potential, antitrust issues it's been very helpful to team up with other states. We have a strange situation in Michigan as it pertains to securities work and I know that's very big in other states. I wish we could do the same thing in Michigan. It's very hard. Under Governor Snyder who himself had been the owner of Gateway Computers, he made it very difficult in Michigan to bring many securities cases, because it's not really controlled by the attorney general or really even the Treasurer, but really by sort of a panel that's put together by the Legislature, which, as I noted, doesn't always work well with the executive branch right now. But yeah, I mean, there's a slew of different areas that we become involved in and many of our biggest consumer protection cases are multistate actions. And I will say, especially in the opioid space, but not for the fact that all the AGs and I'm not just talking about the State AGs, but also the territories and the tribes attorneys working together, I don't think you would have the kind of results that we seem to be getting against opioid manufacturers, distributors. So I think that's been incredibly helpful.
Whether they're investigations into Facebook or Google or other large companies where there are potential antitrust issues it's been very helpful to team up with other states.
Priorities Moving Forward: Climate Change and Environmental Enforcement
Stephen Cobb: Looking into your crystal ball in the next year, 18 months are there particular areas that you think that you as Michigan Attorney General and within your colleagues across the country, will there will an area of particular focus be that environmental enforcement, antitrust? Do you see any particular area growing as an area of caution and focus, for state AGs?
Dana Nessel: Well I think we've certainly seen an increase in litigation by democratic AGs in regard to climate change. And some of those pursuits against, really, you know, oil and gas companies or industry, the industry or plastics industry, I mean, you know, we're seeing more and more in that space. I will say for me, you know, my biggest environmental case that I have pending involves Enbridge Energy's Line 5 that runs through the Straits of Mackinac, which is a 68 year old pipeline that runs through an area with currents that of 10 times that of Niagara Falls, and study after study has indicated that, you know, we're in great jeopardy losing the sanctity of the Great Lakes at a time when you know, the 48 lower states, you know, in the United States are experiencing drought-like conditions and the Great Lakes, people might not realize, contains 21 percent of the Earth's fresh surface water, which we are really going to need. And we can't have it compromised and contaminated. Why I'm bringing this up is because even when I brought that case, even when we were just in the circuit court, which is the lowest level for a case of this magnitude in state court, not in federal court, but in state court, I had at least 17 or 18 state AGs sign on for an amicus on that case. And I think they recognize the great importance of that from an environmental standpoint and that they would be seeing the same kinds of cases in their own states where you have oil and gas companies decide where pipelines should go in their states. And they wanted to be able to regulate that themselves and not just have the, you know, the federal government dictate to them where you can have an oil pipeline that A. would be responsible for climate change related issues, but B. you know, threatened our water systems. And so that's the kind of thing, I mean, that was the first time that's ever happened. But I think it's because we are in grave danger right now based on climate change issues. We're experiencing that all over the United States and was all over the globe as well. I expect to see increased litigation in that space.
Advice for the Private Sector: Working with a State AG Office
Stephen Cobb: One of the unique components of working with the office of the state AG, is one of the things that I alluded to earlier, when I talk about the breadth of regulatory enforcement, the way that state AG offices are carrying. In the private sector, you know, there isn't a manual of rules of procedure in dealing with the state AG office, and every office is a little bit unique. Some have additional authority than others, what sort of, you know, best practices or rules of the road do you think would be helpful for folks here when they're engaging with your office, you know, pre-litigation or during a multistate or enforcement action that you think might be unique.
Dana Nessel: None of it's unique. I just would say, you know, I mean Michigan first of all from a criminal perspective, you know, we have statewide jurisdiction, so we can bring a case anywhere. In Michigan we have more trouble bringing consumer protection cases sometimes than we would in other states, sort of have a toothless consumer protection act to some extent because, you know, we had a case in the 1990s called Smith v. Globe Life Insurance that basically the very conservative Supreme Court that ruled on that in the '90s essentially indicated that, that act didn't apply to any regulated industry, which is all of them pretty much. So that makes things a little more difficult on our end in Michigan. But I would say just an open line of communication, and the way we operate in our office is, there's virtually no one that I won't take a meeting with and listen to their perspective and listen to their point of view. And we've had many times where, you know, were going to embark on litigation and we were able to resolve things short of that with an understanding of how our business partners, our corporate partners would be changing course on something. And we've had those meetings multiple times in all kinds of spaces. And so I'm always willing to engage. I think it's always better if you can settle something before there's a lawsuit that's ever filed.
Stephen Cobb: My perspective was, when I was in the office, and certainly now that I'm back in the private sector, which is I never liked to wait for a letter either to send or to receive it. And I saw that you know, if there was one state doing a lot in a particular industry and I had a client in that industry, I would want to go talk early to explain where we are on that set of issues. Do you find conversations like that helpful?
Dana Nessel: Very helpful. And, you know, there have been a number of times where, you know, we even go so far as to draft laws that, you know, amended current law that we think are more helpful for both parties. And I will tell you we are always open to working together with our corporate partners. You know, and we're doing it in a number of different ways. Right now I've been working with the retailers both the brick and mortar and the online retailers. I have many different initiatives, but one that I'd like to see before the end of my first term would be an Organized Retail Crime Unit or what I would call a Business Protection Unit to send the billions and billions of dollars in theft loss that ultimately, it's not just about protecting those business, it's also about protecting consumers because of course, they have to raise their rates or prices, when there's large scale theft like that. So a lot of different areas, especially in more urban areas, they end up shutting down their stores altogether. And we've had time periods in the city of Detroit, where we didn't have a single grocery store that was not just sort of a small Mom 'n Pop type place that was a Kroger or Whole Foods or Farmer Jack or one of those.
One [initiative] that I'd like to see before the end of my first term would be an Organized Retail Crime Unit or what I would call a Business Protection Unit to send the billions of dollars in theft loss... it's not just about protecting those business, it's also about protecting consumers because..., they have to raise their... prices, when there's large scale theft.
Stephen Cobb: Right, a sort of secondary market issue where people will steal and they go find ways to resell. It's not just a billion dollar loss, but also passed on to consumers.
Dana Nessel: Organized crime is you know mafia-type behavior, quite honestly, and that's an area that what's a little unique about it is, it's very different from the drug trade, in that it doesn't just evolve one state, you really have to have cooperation between all the states. And that's my hope moving forward is that we're able to do an MOU with all 50 states working together to combat this. If we can't be bipartisan on an issue like this then I don't know if there's hope for us to be bipartisan on anything. So we really have to work together. I would love to see that happen. I'm trying my hardest to set up a unit in my office and hoping that the Legislature will see fit to appropriate the money that I need to do that because it's critically important.
Collaboration With the Biden Administration
Stephen Cobb: One more serious question. After four years of some obvious acrimony with the prior presidential administration, do you see any areas on the cusp of collaboration with the Biden Administration, be that FTC, DOJ, FCC?
Dana Nessel: Well, I will tell you that when you talk about the FTC and FCC, the robocall initiative I talked about. We had a great collaboration. We had I think, the first annual National Robocalling Summit of its kind, it was sponsored by NAAG. It was a collaboration between Michigan and our nemesis Ohio. With Dave Yost, who was very cooperative and was great to work with and his staff was great to work with. I, of course, am Michigan Wolverine, and he is in Ohio Buckeye, and yet we found a way to work together with our federal partners on this with the telecom industry and I think we're making great progress and everyone wants the same thing, which is to stop illegal robocalls. And I'm thrilled whenever we can find an area to come together.
I, of course, am Michigan Wolverine, and he is in Ohio Buckeye, and yet we found a way to work together with our federal partners on this with the telecom industry and I think we're making great progress and everyone wants the same thing, which is to stop illegal robocalls. And I'm thrilled whenever we can find an area to come together.
Using Social Media to Inform Constituents and Advance Initiatives
Stephen Cobb: I mean if Wolverines and Buckeyes can work together, that's got to be some measure of hope. In that vein, we chatted about your Twitter presence earlier. Have you found that your activism on social media helps you connect with your constituents in a productive manner.
Dana Nessel: I do, actually. First of all, I think it's nice when people can see their elected officials is just real people like them. But a big part of what I've done, whether it's my Twitter feed or my PSAs, that I do on things like voting and consumer protection, and all different kinds of issues. A lot of it has to do with the fact that, you know, I love doing town halls, I'm love getting out to talk to people in public. During the pandemic, you simply couldn't do that, so I had the next best to get the message across people that were consumer protection related or in Michigan how to vote because we had first time absentee ballot voting for no reason. That was passed in 2018 by voter initiative and nobody knew how to vote! And it was during a global pandemic, so I would do videos, one of them I was in a Halloween costume, one I was in my pajamas, but I really wanted to get the message across. But I guess I was at least a little savvy enough to know that if it's me sitting behind a desk in my lawyer suit ain't nobody going to watch past the first five seconds of that video. So I had to sort of jazz it up a little bit, make them entertaining, make them interesting, make them eye-catching so that people will get those messages. And I'll tell you what, hundreds of thousands of people ended up watching some of those videos, so if those one hundreds of thousands of people that knew how to vote when they were otherwise confused or who avoided being victimized by a scam artist because they learned a specific scam that was very and that people were losing millions and millions of dollars to, then it's worth me looking like anything idiot my pajamas if it got you to watch that ad, and I'm willing to sacrifice my dignity to help all my constituents, and I hope that that's helpful.
I'm willing to sacrifice my dignity to help all my constituents, and I hope that that's helpful.
Closing Thoughts: New Michigan Criminal Justice Reform Program
Stephen Cobb: General, thank you so much for your time before we wrap up, is there any initiatives or message that you want to highlight that you have going on in Michigan.
Dana Nessel: I'd love to. We have some great criminal justice reform programing that we're doing. And one that I am as excited about as anything, addresses the backlog in criminal cases being disposed of because we haven't had jury trials in such a long time, as well as the rise in gun-related crimes and violence and also the fact that people are having a hard time finding the labor market. We've had a great shortage. So we have a new program, we're going to be kicking off soon called Job Corps. It's really an opportunity for people who have pending gun crimes that are non-assaultive, mostly possession of illegal firearms to be instead placed into a job, with job training. And if they are able to maintain their job for a year, their criminal case is dismissed. And I'm really excited for starting this, we're kicking it off in some of our most populous counties and we have wrap around services for these folks. We're going to provide them with, you know, if they need help with substance use or mental health, you know, types of issues that they're going to need some assistance with, their transportation. We're going to be there helping them with that. At the same time, we're going to be taking people who were on the street, committing a gun-related crime and instead put them into a job. These are pilot programs, but I'm really excited to see how they work. It's as exciting as any other initiative that I've had, and I'm working in concert with the county sheriffs and county prosecutors, and I can't wait to see where it goes.
It's really an opportunity for people who have pending gun crimes that are non-assaultive, mostly possession of illegal firearms to be instead placed into a job, with job training. And if they are able to maintain their job for a year, their criminal case is dismissed.
Stephen Cobb: That sounds really exciting, and I hope it works and is something that can be scaled. So that's fantastic. General, thank you so much for joining us, it's been a fantastic conversation. Again, my name is Stephen Cobb, and this has been another episode of the Eyes on Washington Podcast, State Attorneys General edition.