Legal Expert: Michigan Gov. Whitmer Faces Possible Charges Over Nursing Home Deaths
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t the only governor in potential hot water over nursing home deaths in the early days of the pandemic, with a prosecutor hinting that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could face criminal charges over the same issue.
From Fox News:
Peter Lucido, the Macomb County prosecutor, told WXYZ.com that he is limited in his own investigation into nursing home deaths, but if it is revealed that there was “willful neglect of office” or “reckless endangerment of a person’s life,” there could be criminal charges.
Lucido, a former Republican state senator, appealed to those in the state who may have lost loved ones to the virus who were in nursing homes to seek out information about the deaths. He said HIPPAA laws prevent his office from obtaining some patient information.
Whitmer, who has faced fierce criticism from Michigan’s GOP led legislature for her handling of the pandemic, called the calls for an investigation into her “politically motivated.”:
“The administration’s policies carefully tracked CDC guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives,” the statement read. “Early in the pandemic, the state acted swiftly to create a network of regional hubs with isolation units and adequate PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within a facility. In addition, we have offered 100 percent of nursing home resident priority access to the vaccine. Both the former head of AARP, as well as an independent U-M study, praised our work to save lives in nursing homes.”
But an investigative journalist said that Whitmer has been less than forthcoming with information about nursing homes:
Last week, Charlie LeDuff, an investigative journalist from the state, told Fox News that he is suing the state’s Democrat governor after trying to for months to get answers on COVID-19-related deaths tied to nursing homes.
“You can’t get them. I’ve been asking for months,” he said.
Dana Nessel, the state’s attorney general, is reportedly looking into the state’s “nursing home policies,” according to ClickonDetroit.com.
Whitmer has been one of the country’s most controversial governor’s during the COVID-19 pandemic, imposing some of the harshest restrictions in the nation on Michigan’s residents without involving the state’s legislature.
Critics have called her restrictions arbitrary and an abuse of power, resulting in the legislature winning a court battle that stripped the governor of her emergency powers last year.
But that court loss didn’t deter Whitmer, who found a legal workaround to the ruling by using the state’s Health Department to issue new directives.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has been unable to dodge the controversy surrounding his handling of nursing home death data in the early stages of the pandemic. The governor has also added a sexual harassment scandal to his growing issues, resulting in calls for him to resign while some lawmakers have launched and impeachment effort.
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