June 7, 2021
June 7, 2021
LANSING, Mich., June 7th, 2021 – Michigan Rising Action is demanding Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel stop using her elected office for political purposes. Nessel recently used her office’s ongoing prosecution as a conduit to raise money for her campaign and it was revealed that she hired her former business partner and campaign donor, Chris Kessel, to serve as an assistant state attorney general in the probe. In Nessel’s own words, Kessel’s campaign contributions disqualify him from holding the position. Additionally, Nessel compensated Kessel at an hourly rate, a practice that she criticized Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office for on the campaign trail and said should “never” happen.
The Detroit News reports:
“A former business associate of Attorney General Dana Nessel was hired as a full-time assistant state attorney general in March after working on contract for more than a year and a half as a special assistant attorney general in the Flint water investigation.
Kessel billed at least $53,209 in 2020 and was hired as a full-time employee March 15 at a salary of $133,990 annually, according to documents obtained by The Detroit News.”
In 2018, while campaigning for office, then-candidate Nessel criticized the Flint water investigation for paying prosecutors hourly, appointing special prosecutors who were campaign donors, and the high cost of attorney fees.
From Bridge Magazine:
Nessel: “Prosecutors should never be paid hourly, as this practice risks incentivizing the charging of unsustainable cases, filing frivolous motions and calling unnecessary witnesses to testify.”
Despite Nessel’s concerns with prosecutors being paid hourly, theAP reports that the lucrative agreement with Kessel is paid on an hourly basis:
Kessel joined the Flint water team in August 2019 after he and Hammoud signed a 14-month contract that paid him $125 an hour to bill no more than 80 hours a month, according to documents obtained by the AP.
Nessel specifically cited campaign contributions as a disqualifying factor when selecting assistant attorney general’s, in Bridge Magazine:
Nessel: Additionally, the appointed special prosecutor, Todd Flood, is a significant donor to both Schuette as well as to (Gov. Rick) Snyder, ostensibly one of the targets of the investigation…
I would hire assistant AGs who are true civil servants, experienced prosecutors or defense attorneys, with no financial self-interest in the charging or dismissal decision-making process.
Attorney General Nessel has recused herself from the Flint criminal trial, but has appointed one of her campaign donors to a top position in the investigation. She also continues to use it for fundraising purposes.
“Michigan Rising Action is calling on Dana Nessel to immediately release the names of the individuals hired by her office as assistant state attorneys general in the Flint water probe, and all costs associated with their employment,” said Eric Ventimiglia, executive director for Michigan Rising Action. Ventimiglia continued, “Hiring a former business partner and campaign donor to a six-figure job at the expense of taxpayers is a significant ethical breach. After campaigning heavily on the Flint water crisis, Nessel continues to abuse the power of her office for her own political gain.”