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AG Nessel confirms investigation into threats against Wayne County canvassers

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says her office is "actively investigating threats" made against members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers.

Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, two Republican board members, initially blocked the certification of results in Wayne County last week before agreeing to validate them and request an audit. Their initial opposition drew frustration from Democrats and their later decision to certify drew frustration from Republicans.

William Hartmann, left, and chairwoman Monica Palmer at the Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting, which addressed the certification of the Nov. 3 election in Detroit on Nov. 17, 2020.

"We will investigate any credible complaints of threats to government officials, elected or appointed, and will prosecute criminal conduct to the fullest extent of the law," Nessel said Tuesday.

"Serving the people — regardless of party — is an honorable but sometimes difficult and thankless task," Nessel continued. "And while many of us have been subjected to hateful and often obscene insults, threats of violence and harm will not be tolerated."

Nessel’s criminal Investigations division initiated its investigation shortly after last week’s county board meeting, according to a statement issued Tuesday morning.

The statement from the attorney general, a Democrat, came after Palmer, the chairwoman of the county board, detailed threats levied against her during the Board of State Canvassers meeting Monday.

Palmer told the Board of State Canvassers on Monday that she received threats against her family including receiving graphic images of naked, dead women and a photo of her daughter "letting me know that that's what's going to happen to my daughter." Palmer said she was also called a terrorist and told that "my entire family should be fearful for their lives." 

Norm Shinkle, a Republican member of the Board of State Canvassers, also said he had received threats, including "nasty emails telling me my family's at risk."

"I had one person even suggest you gotta vote yes to certify 'for the safety of your family,'" said Shinkle, who's also chairman of the 8th Congressional District Republican Committee.

The Board of State Canvassers voted 3-0 to certify Michigan's statewide election results on Monday, cementing President-elect Joe Biden's victory and delivering another blow to President Donald Trump's push to challenge it. Shinkle abstained.


Staff Writer Beth LeBlanc contributed.