LANSING, Mich. — “I’ve never worked so hard and left my house so little.”
That was the overwhelming sentiment from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel during a one-on-one interview with FOX 17.
Nessel reflected on 2020, a year filled with challenges for everyone, but especially for her office.
“Obviously there were a slew of executive orders that came from the governor’s office, not something we would ordinarily ever see,” said Nessel, referring to the more than 200 executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer. Most of them dealt with the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many faced legal challenges.
Ultimately, the battle over the 1945 Emergency Powers Act went to the State Supreme Court, where Republican lawmakers won their fight to have the state of emergency enacted by the Governor lifted.
“Only until we got to the Michigan Supreme Court that the act itself was unconstitutional,” said Nessel. “I didn’t agree with that decision, although I respect it. But I think it made things a lot more unsafe in Michigan. I think it made her job a lot harder.”
The A.G. says without the quick action of the governor, thousands of lives would have been lost in the spring.
Nessel's office also led the charge for the state's defense of how it carried out the general election. The Trump campaign filed multiple lawsuits after voters cast their ballots, but so far none of those cases resulted in wins for the president.
“I will say the election stuff was pretty insane. We defended dozens of lawsuits involving the election,” said Nessel. “They lost all of their cases, whether they were filed in state court or federal court, and whether the judges were appointed or ran as republicans or democrats. To me, that’s where you see integrity in the courts.”
The attorney general's office is also pressing charges against 8 people for their alleged involvement in the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer. At the start of the pandemic, it also highlighted and fought against price gouging when supplies of some items ran low.
While she and her team remained busy in 2020, Nessel says there is a lot of room for improvement.
“We have to prepare for this set of circumstances to happen again, but for us to do a better job next time.”