Political Insider: Nessel blocks Rep. LaFave on Twitter

In this June 4, 2019, photo, Dana Nessel, Attorney General of Michigan, listens to a question from reporters in Detroit.

A Republican lawmaker blocked on Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s personal Twitter account is questioning the legality of such a move after a federal court ruling Tuesday banned President Donald Trump from doing as much.

Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, has sparred repeatedly with Nessel on social media this year regarding her statements related to the department’s Catholic clergy sexual abuse investigation and her efforts to shut down the Line 5 pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac, infrastructure that is critical to propane delivery to the Upper Peninsula.

“How many other constituents concerned about their heating is she blocking?” said LaFave, who first noticed he’d been blocked Wednesday.

“The Court of Appeals made a ruling yesterday and subsequent to that ruling she either blocked me or did not unblock me, which she is legally obliged to do. She should know better as attorney general.”

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that found President Donald Trump violates the Constitution when he blocks critics. The ruling found “that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”

Nessel’s attorneys are reviewing the ruling, said spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney. But the department believes the action was permissible because Nessel used her personal account, @dananessel, to block LaFave and not her public account, @miattygen.

Rep. Beau LaFave

“It’s our understanding that there is definitely a distinction,” Rossman-McKinney said, noting the attorney general does not block anyone on her public account.

Nessel chose to block LaFave after months of “unnecessary comments” about which she eventually “chose not to engage,” Rossman-McKinney said.

LaFave rejected the attorney general's reasoning, noting the federal appeals opinion issued Tuesday also concerned a personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, not the president's @POTUS account.

According to Tuesday's ruling, the president argued the @realDonaldTrump account was personal, but the U.S. Court of Appeals found "evidence of the official nature of the account is overwhelming."

LaFave denied his own tweets amounted to “trolling” the attorney general.

“I want all elected officials to answer for the good and bad they do,” he said. “I think the attorney general is an intelligent individual who is doing what she feels is best but some of her decisions are affecting thousands of people in the Upper Peninsula and someone needs to hold her accountable.”

Upton helps create new caucus

Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, this week took part in launching the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt to “embrace and promote constructive efforts to resolve conservation and environmental problems that align with market-based approaches and promote American ingenuity.”

Upton, former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will serve as vice chair of the Republican caucus. He said it’s possible to protect the environment without “destroying” the economy. 

US Rep. Fred Upton, R-St Joseph

“The environment is important. Climate change is real. We have divided government but people want us to deliver, and this is just one particularly Republican group that can confess we care about the environment,” Upton said.

“We ought to be working together on these things.” 

Other members kicking off the caucus Wednesday included U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Steve Daines of Montana, Rob Portman of Ohio and Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Reps. Brian Mast and Matt Gaetz of Florida, and Will Hurd of Texas.