Livingston County sheriff investigates tweets criticizing COVID mask critics

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

The Livingston County Sheriff Department is investigating a Howell woman who criticized individuals who spoke out against COVID-19 mask mandates during public meetings.

Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy said Tuesday his office is "looking into" a complaint of "harassment/intimidation/cyber bullying" related to Kasey Helton. 

"We are looking into and will send it to the prosecutor's office to see if it rises to the level of criminal or falls under free speech," Murphy said. 

Helton's attorney on Tuesday said he doesn't see how his client could be charged for political speech and doesn't believe the investigation will result in as much. 

"Seems to me someone is upset that her opinion is different than their opinion," said lawyer Craig Tank. "We don't criminalize opinions."

In a Monday post that has gained hundreds of retweets, Helton said she was contacted by a deputy Monday who said she was being investigated under a law that penalizes the use of electronic media to harass, threaten or intimidate another person. 

"The posts I have made about these nurses and about my local chapter of Moms for Liberty pertain to their public activism of their 'movement' (their word) made in public social media posts and public government meetings," Helton wrote Monday. 

"At no point have I attempted to contact or encouraged others to contact any of the parties involved. I have not approached any of these folks when in a public setting. I have not shared any private information that was not included in their already public posts."

Over the past week, Helton's posts have focused on public comments made by a few different individuals regarding COVID-19 and their opposition to masks for children. Helton's posts have included messages to the individuals' alleged employers and the state's licensing arm, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Another post criticized comments made by the local leader for Moms For Liberty. 

"Frankly I am shocked the LCSD would play a role in this naked attempt to undermine my free speech rights guaranteed by the #FirstAmendment ... and silence dissenters of life threatening public policy measures during a deadly pandemic. Updates to follow!" Helton wrote Monday.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com