Michigan AG Unleashes Political Diatribe Against Defiant Restaurant Owner (After Tucker Carlson Hit)

We previously discussed the controversial threats of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) against those who were raising electoral fraud allegations.

She is currently in another controversy involving the arrest of restaurant owner Marlena Pavlos-Hackney. Fox Host Tucker Carlson has alleged that the owner was arrested due to her appearance on his show. (For full disclosure, I am a contributor to Fox News).

Nessel can certainly point to a long history of noncompliance to justify the arrest but her statement issued in response to the allegations is, in my view, highly inappropriate and shows raw political bias.

Pavlos-Hackney became a national hero for some in defying the Michigan health orders and what followed were a series of citations and contempt orders.

Those orders were sufficient to secure a bench warrant of arrest, but the timing following her appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show led many to object that Nessel was retaliating against a national critic.

Putting aside the retaliatory accusation, there is ample reason to condemn Nessel’s response to the criticism. Here is the statement:

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney had countless opportunities to comply with even the most basic health and safety protocols to protect her community from the spread of Covid.

She defied her local health department and the court at every turn, instead choosing to taunt health inspectors, law enforcement and the courts at every turn- going on Tucker Carlson and setting up a lucrative Go Fund Me account instead of making even the slightest effort to protect her customers, her workers and community. She is no martyr and no hero.

One cannot repeat the mantra of “Law & Order” and support the activities of Ms Pavlos-Hackney.

But if you cheered Donald Trump when he bragged about the many ways he avoided military service while others complied with their legal obligations, it’s no wonder you revere this woman.

Making personal sacrifice for the greater good of our state and nation was once considered admirable. Not anymore.

Michigan AG Dana Nessel

My objections to the statement are two-fold. 

  • First,  Nessel goes out of her way to taunt Pavlos-Hackney and her supporters. She also makes specific reference to her going on the Tucker Carlson show. Given the free speech issues in such appearances, the reference to a national show (in which Nessel was criticized) shows, at a minimum, terrible judgment by Nessel. This is particularly concerning given Nessel prior threats against people who raised electoral fraud claims.
  • Second, Nessel uses the statement to confirm raw political bias in striking out at Trump and his supporters.  She mockingly notes “if you cheered Donald Trump when he bragged about the many ways he avoided military service while others complied with their legal obligations, it’s no wonder you revere this woman.”  Ironically, it is the type of gratuitous attack that many of us criticized Trump for using against political opponents. However, this is the Michigan Attorney General engaging in petty digs against Republican critics.

The entire statement reads like a political screed rather than a prosecutorial statement. It is both unprofessional and unwarranted in addressing the arrest of a citizen. What is bizarre is that most officials in such a controversy would strive to maintain an absolutely legally  objective and politically neutral position. Nessel could have left the matter by detailing the history of noncompliance as sufficient justification for the arrest. Nessel did precisely the opposite to pander to a political base.  She seems to struggle to fulfill every stereotype of a biased political operative exercising criminal enforcement authority.

Authored by Jonathan Turley