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Department of Attorney General Responds to Incorrect Claims Published by The Detroit News in Letter to Editor Gary Miles

LANSING – Yesterday evening, The Detroit News published an opinion piece by Charlie LeDuff in which the author made several inaccurate claims about the conduct of the Department of Attorney General and Attorney General Dana Nessel. Today the Department responded in a letter to Gary Miles, editor and publisher of The Detroit News, and its editorial board. In the interest of public information and education, the Department is responding to the incorrect claims. 

There was no violation of an internal Isolation Wall Notice. The Isolation Wall was established to prevent the perception of influence from the Attorney General, who had a prior professional engagement with the investigatory subject, into the investigation and subsequent charging decision and potential prosecution. At the time of the reported communications, the investigation had concluded and the decision not to pursue criminal charges had been completed, without influence from or consult with Attorney General Nessel. The investigation subject did not receive the reports from the Attorney General, but via a public records request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, the same mechanism used by the opinion author at the Detroit News. The Attorney General’s review of the reports at that time was not in conflict with the isolation wall in letter nor intent. 

The investigation was conducted by two distinct divisions at the Department of Attorney General, the Financial Crimes Division and the Health Care Fraud Division.  Neither division found criminal action and the case was closed for both a lack of cooperating complainant (who never returned correspondence from Department investigators) and lack of an interested aggrieved party (The Village of Heather Hills, who did not wish to pursue the matter and could likely not demonstrate any harm from the incident.) 

“It is unfortunate the Department of Attorney General should have to refute so many falsehoods published under the masthead The Detroit News,” wrote Acting Chief Legal Counsel for the Department of Attorney General Linus Banghart-Linn in the letter to the Detroit News. “The opinion piece published yesterday not only fails to achieve any public good or ‘sunshine’ on the work of government, but irresponsibly twists half-understood and fully fabricated notions of the Department to the detriment of public trust in their State government.” 

Furthermore, this serves as a timely reminder to news subscribers that pieces published in the Opinions section of even large and typically credible publications are not held to a news standard of accuracy, and are not required to be grounded in any facts. They are exactly what they purport to be, the author’s opinion.    


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