The Justice Department refused to take up a civil-rights investigation into Michigan‘s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over her policy of requiring nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients during the pandemic.
Whitmer’s policy came under scrutiny after an investigation discovered the state’s health department severely undercounted the number of coronavirus deaths that occurred in long-term care centers after the policy was implemented.
The Trump-era Justice Department sought data from Whitmer’s administration and a few other states that passed similar policies, citing a possible violation of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
However, President Joe Biden’s Justice Department said this week it would not be investigating the matter any further, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“We have reviewed the information you provided along with additional information available to the Department,” wrote Steven Rosenbaum, chief of the department’s Special Litigation Section, in a letter to Whitmer’s office. “Based on that review, we have decided not to open a CRIPA investigation of any public nursing facility within Michigan at this time.”
The news comes after Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel similarly refused to investigate Whitmer’s policy, calling requests for the investigation “political attacks” on the divisive and controversial governor.
But just a couple of weeks ago, Michigan’s auditor general, Doug Ringler, agreed to investigate Whitmer’s policy at the request of state Rep. Steven Johnson, chairman of the GOP-led legislature’s House Oversight Committee.
Michigan Republicans praised Ringler’s announcement as an important step toward accountability.
“The Auditor General’s investigation will finally uncover the full extent of Governor Whitmer’s deadly nursing home policy and give the people of our state the answers they deserve,” Eric Ventimiglia, executive director of Michigan Rising Action, said in a statement.
“Governor Whitmer’s refusal to relent on this disastrous policy led to the deaths of thousands of Michiganders,” he added, “and this investigation will ensure that she and her administration are held accountable for their recklessness.”