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Posted on Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 6:01 a.m.

Report details past problems with former Michigan assistant AG who targeted U-M student body president with anti-gay attacks

By David Jesse

Former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell was warned about using state resources to launch anti-gay attacks on politicians two months before he began targeting the University of Michigan’s student body president, newly released documents show.

The earlier warning stemmed from an e-mail Shirvell sent at 11:57 a.m. Feb. 3 to a former state representative before a protest planned at the Capitol building. The nature of the protest isn’t clear.

“The grassroots will NEVER let you and your (gay slur) ….. hijack our pro-life, pro-family party in pursuit of your PERVETED radical homosexual agenda,” Shirvell wrote to former state Rep. Leon Drolet and others.

A recipient of the e-mail contacted the attorney general’s office, prompting his supervisors to warn Shirvell not to use state resources that way again and not to “engage in that conduct again,” according to an investigation report compiled by the attorney general’s office and obtained by

But he did, the documents say, eventually leading to a 586-page investigative report on which Shirvell’s firing was based.


Andrew Shirvell is shown in this file photo at a Michigan Student Assembly meeting.

Marissa McClain | The Michigan Daily

The investigation was launched after Shirvell, an U-M alumnus, drew national attention for his anti-gay blog attacking Chris Armstrong, the university’s first openly gay student body president. Shirvell started the blog last April.

The e-mail to Drolet was listed among the eight reasons for Shirvell’s firing on Nov. 8. After national attention in the case mounted in late September, the attorney general’s office drew more than 22,000 e-mails, 150 letters and 940 phone calls, most advocating for Shirvell to be fired, documents show.

The investigation was conducted over the course of a month and included more than 40 witness statements and interviews, a forensic computer examination and several interviews with Shirvell.

The report accuses Shirvell of calling police to create a newsworthy event, improperly using state resources and verbally assaulting his supervisor.

Shirvell has said he was just exercising his free speech rights and did it outside of work hours. He could not be reached for comment for this story.

“Employees should not be fired solely for exercising their protected First Amendment rights, irrespective of how unpopular their speech might be,” according to the report, authored by Douglas Bramble, director of the office of human resources, and Thomas Cameron, bureau chief of the Criminal Justice Bureau. “However, AAG Shirvell’s conduct in violating office policy, borderline harassing behavior, inappropriately using state resources and evasive - sometime false statements given at the Disciplinary Conference, are factors which support our recommendation for his termination.”

The conflict

Shortly after Armstrong was elected, Shirvell started a blog condemning the U-M student body president for his “radical homosexual agenda.”

He also showed up outside Armstrong’s residence, at student government meetings and at other events to protest. University of Michigan police asked prosecutors to charge Shirvell with stalking, but prosecutors declined and said Shirvell’s actions were not considered harassment under the stalking statute.

Thumbnail image for Chris-Armstrong.jpg

University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong is shown in this file photo shortly after he was elected.

U-M also placed Shirvell on a trespass list, barring him from campus, but that order was later modified to just ban Shirvell from having contact with Armstrong on campus.

Armstrong filed for a personal protection order against Shirvell, but dropped his request after Shirvell left him alone.

After Shirvell was fired from his job, Armstrong and his attorney, Deborah Gordon, petitioned the state Attorney Grievance Commission to have Shirvell disbarred. That process is still ongoing.

Gordon said Friday that Armstrong has not ruled out further legal action against Shirvell, who is still listed in state bar records as working in the state attorney general’s office.

“The AG did a thorough investigation,” said Gordon, who has a copy of the findings. “It’s sad. He comes across as a very misguided person who has no professional judgment.

“He obviously doesn’t have the ability to function as an attorney. He’s obviously filled with hate and willing to make up things about people without any consideration for the affect it will have on their lives.”

The report

Shirvell, who was a paid worker on then Attorney General Mike Cox’s campaign, was hired in the office on May 6, 2007. He worked in the appellate division, where he was an average to above average employee, the investigation said.

But the investigation turned up a number of incidents during his employment.

He was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while visibly impaired in 2009 and was sentenced to six months of probation.


This 10-page pdf is a summary of the Michigan Attorney General's Office investigation. An anti-gay slur was redacted, as well as several names to protect the privacy of those individuals. Warning: One page contains profanity.

And there was the Feb. 3 e-mail to Drolet. Shirvell promised he would never engage in such conduct again after he was confronted, the documents show.

“His supervisors immediately confronted AAG Shirvell, who admitted that he sent the e-mail from a state computer, but said he was ‘on the lunch hour’ and he sent it from his personal e-mail account. Both of his supervisors, Joel McGormley and Eric Restuccia, verbally counseled him that this was an unacceptable use of state resources and to never engage in this conduct again.”

But the investigation found he continued such conduct, posting political comments on Facebook from April 26 to July 29.

“During the Disciplinary Conference, however, AAG Shirvell denied using any state resources whatsoever in his efforts against Mr. Armstrong. He stated that all of his Facebook and blogging posts about Mr. Armstrong were made from his home computer. This is entirely inconsistent with the dates and times of several of his Facebook posts and his payroll records,” the investigation memo said.

The investigation also detailed a verbal assault Shirvell is accused of making on his supervisor.

According to the report, Shirvell’s supervisor sent an e-mail Aug. 31 to the entire division about an issue that came out of a case Shirvell handled in court.

“In response to this seemingly innocuous e-mail, AAG Shirvell stood in his supervisor’s doorway and proceeded to scream at him, repeatedly stating: ‘this is (expletive) and (expletive). AAG Shirvell further screamed that he was not going to work any more (expletive) overtime or do anything for the (expletive) division.

“Staff described AAG Shirvell as being ‘unhinged’ and some staff believed that he was on ‘the brink of physically assaulting’ his supervisor. Even giving every benefit to AAG Shirvell, it is difficult to understand how an innocuous e-mail from a supervisor ‘pushed his buttons’ and elicited such extraordinary anger.”

Shirvell was suspended for two and a half days.

On Sept. 4, the day after returning to work, Shirvell went to Armstrong’s off-campus house at 1:30 a.m.

“After reviewing all of the evidence, it is clear that he went to Mr. Armstrong’s home for the purpose of taking pictures of a party that AAG Shirvell had learned was to be held at Mr. Armstrong’s home,” the documents state. “During the Disciplinary Conference, AAG Shirvell admitted he was not there to protest or advocate any position.”

Instead, Shirvell told them, he was there to determine whether Armstrong was following the rules governing underage drinking. According to documents, Shirvell observed more than 100 people there, said he saw someone urinating outside, and called police.

Once officers arrived, Shirvell took photos and video.

“This ‘raid’ was played up in AAG Shirvell’s blog the following day as a ‘stunning turn of events’ with 'exclusive pictures and videos’ of police ‘descending’ on Mr. Armstrong’s house,” the investigation said.

The investigation report said a number of people in Shirvell’s office told him to stop blogging because it was undermining his professional credibility and was inviting civil litigation.

“Solicitor General Restuccia specifically recalls telling AAG Shirvell that he could be opening himself to civil liability for what he was saying, but AAG Shirvell responded, ‘he did not care and it would be better to be on the curb then not be true to his beliefs’ and if ‘they’ sued’, he would just file for bankruptcy,” documents state.

The department didn’t buy Shirvell’s argument that it was protected speech.

“The totality of the circumstances establishes that AAG Shirvell’s conduct has affected this department’s ability to operated efficiently and effectively,” the report said.

David Jesse covers higher education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Tue, Jan 25, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

This is the first report to nail Shirvell. Previously, the PPO action against Shirvell was dismissed, the trespass notice was modified significantly and the Washtenaw County Prosecutor declined to charge Shirvell with stalking. The salient feature I see in this report is that the Attorney General's Office had previous notice of other occaisions of Shirvell's disturbingly bizarre behavior and did nothing to rein him in to any great extent. The State of Michigan failed to use due care in preventing Shirvell from misusing its telecommunications facilities to harass others, To the extent Shirvell employed his status as an Asst. Atty General to advance his wrongful conduct, the state may be held liable under civil rihgts laws. Armstrong's attorney must be licking her chops to read this report and see the possibilty of a "deep-pockets"defendant like the State of Michigan.


Tue, Jan 25, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

"by your logic, everybody that gets an impaired driving conviction should be immediately fired" No, not every person, just police, judges, ATTORNEYS. By logic their job consists of upholding laws and prosecuting people who may have been int he same boat. Would you want an attorney in the AG's office to have cases that involve pedophilia if he were a convicted pedophile? Would you want a person who committed rape to handle rape cases? The fact is, you can downplay the CONVICTION any way you want, but impaired driving is a choice he made. "This criticism of republicans in general is an extream statement. Regardless whether a politician has a -R or -D at the end of his name, their are incompetent politicians in both parties" Other than the fact you can not spell EXTREME? I have yet to see a democrat stand in front of any college kids home that he does not know obsessing and discussing his life that he knows nothing about, on Facebook or other sites. if a democrat does that I will gladly go after them as well. The fact is the republican party has as part of their platform an anti-gay plank to it. Read it sometime. IT IS WHAT THEIR CORE BELIEFS ARE. I have read both parties core beliefs, so yes I am not tolerant of a party that is bigoted as part of their DNA. "Watch who you group with whom. I'm a member of the Washtenaw GOP and our support for Cox was barely ahead of our support for Bernero. " Really? Tell us who you voted for in the last two AG races prior to this last November? The republican party GLADLY gave money to his campaign. Supporting the republican party in any way was support for Mike Cox for AG. As for the spurious claim that organized labor stops people from being fired, well it is a lie. In fact, if it were a lie, why was Shirvell able to be fired? Oh wait, only because somebody with enough backbone like Chris Armstrong stood up to the bully and FORCED the cheating AG to do his JOB.


Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Interestingly, the 10-page memo mentions Shirvell being seen at a Westboro Baptist Church demonstration. This would link Shirvell with the homophobic group led by Rev. Fred Phelps that has protested at soldiers' burials.

Sandra Samons

Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

What happened to the article on Shirvell that appeared in yesterday's print version of I would like to offer 2 comments. First is a suggestion about the format. I think it would be helpful if NEWS was divided into Local, Regional, State, National, and maybe even World, but I doubt that you have that capability yet. Regarding Shirvell, although it does not appear to have reached that point, I cannot help but think of all the early warning signs that were not acted upon to prevent the recent tragic shootings in Arizona. With Shirvell, there are certainly indications of emotional instability. Now he has lost his job, and who will he blame? What if, next, he is disbarred, as appears likely? Will that push him over the edge? I think this is a matter of concern and bears watching.


Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

Shirvell's intent is criminal, even if he was able to use his knowledge of statutes to keep from being prosecuted. Anyone who would stalk someone because of his lifestyle is in serious need of therapy. As for using state resources in his one-man campaign of sexual harassment, Shirvell almost got exactly what he deserved, but not quite. Shirvell should have to reimburse the state for the monetary value of any resources he used in his personal attacks. And he should be disbarred. I wonder if Shirvell has ever heard of "live and let live?" Usually, such an irrational hatred of any "ideology" or lifestyle is indicative of repressed urges in that direction. Whatever the case, he certainly isn't a very happy person. Worse yet, he blew a job most people would crawl to Lansing on their hands and knees to accept. I hope he learns his lesson someday, but I doubt that he will.

just an observer

Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 12:16 p.m.

He should also reimburse the state for the cost of this investigation. Probably Mike Cox should be held accountable, too. He was aware of Shirvell's previous erratic behavior & pretended everything was fine!


Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

Mike Cox may have hired him, but I think the real issue here is the mental health of Andrew Shirvell. I'm not saying that he'll resort to violence, but after the recent unfortunate event of the Gabby Giffords' shooting, it makes you wonder when people become so hateful when they'll snap. Clearly, Andrew has already approached that line numerous times.


Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 3:57 a.m.

It's understandable why Chris Armstrong asked for a restraining order at first. Guys like Shirvell are scary!


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 9:43 p.m.

I once again vote for Paul Rubens to play AAG Shirvell if and when this story is put on film.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

This is a sad guy in a sad state and he needs some help. Clearly he needs real, comprehensive counseling from a Psychiatrist and probably a good set of meds. I am bothered that he continues on without such requirements. The U didn't require counseling when he was an undergrad and clearly unhinged. Ave Maria didn't require it. Mike Cox didn't require it (when he ran his campaign) and didn't require it again when he was convicted of driving impaired and again, didn't require it when he was screaming at his supervisor. This guy needs help - he's a time bomb. And then we have the state bar with a clearly problematic attorney with their stamp of approval on him. I want to know how he passed the background check for character and fitness to gain entry. Ave Maria, hows that grad lookin' for ya now?


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

Oh, I'm sure Shirvell will end up being offered a position with Thomas More Law Center.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

I would have been shocked if there hadn't been previous incidents of Shirvell's disturbing behavior. This should have been nipped in the bud early on by Mike Cox.

1st Amendment

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

What a bunch of trumped up charges. A 586-page investigative report and all they found was a strongly worded email to a legislator and personal use of the office computer once during lunch to write a personal email. Which of his accusers has NEVER used their office computer to send personal emails or any non business related use?? BORDERLINE harassment – what exactly is that?? We know it is definitely NOT harassment. Come on we know it is only Mr. Shirvell's message that is unpopular - not his methods.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

So impaired driving is no big deal to you? Please let us all know where you drink so we aren't around you. He was CONVICTED of this charge. This is not even open to debate any further. Once convicted the law means he is GUILTY. He was also suspended from his job for issues not related to this case. How many times have you been suspended at your job? Trumped up my ass. He should be disbarred.

David Briegel

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 7 p.m.

Take off your rose colored glasses and reread the article. Use your name so Mr Shirvell can find your home in the middle of the night!

Random Man

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

The crux of the matter for me is how Mr.Shirvell came to be in such a position of power in the first place. Are we so divided politically in this nation, that we must turn to such individuals to court every fringe group to acheive a political victory? Mr. Shirvell by his 1st ammendment rights is allowed to his voice and opinion, though I do not agree with them. What bothers me is that he was given a stage in our state government to command such attention in the fist place.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

Mr. Dearing, your comment basically restated the comments that were deleted...perhaps you should have stopped at the first period.

Constance Colthorp Amrine

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

Driving while impaired puts more families and children at risk and could hijack more lives than could a homosexual agenda.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

It is shocking that the discourse has degraded to this level. And for what reason? Because someone objects to someone else's sexual habits? Would-be saviors of society: hasn't history shown that these are the ones who produce the greatest damage?


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

I had hoped this guys "15 minutes of fame" were over. Apparently that is not the case. Pretty sad commentary on his actions. I am not a counselor but it appears this young man needs some help. The really sad thing is how he has struck out at so many, caused fear and mistrust and caused the expenditure of many hours and dollars. Glad this came out, sad it ever happened.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

The media has focused on the last few weeks on the story of Gabby Giffords and the man who allegedly shot her as being mentally unstable. In hindsight, the signs were there, it's just that there was no one system to connect all the incidents and behavior together. This seems like such a case as well - a mentally unhinged man increasing his inappropriate behavior over time right in front of us. Is disbarring him as a lawyer the right answer or is requiring him to seek mental health help even more important at this time?


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

Could it now be justified that Shrivell should be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm? There is no such law which prevented the Giffords shooter from owning one. Is there one here? I don't think there is, but can you take "He should never have been allowed to have a gun" from the Giffords shooter and apply it here? I am trying to follow a logical process to its consequences.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

Let the Republican and Catholic bashing commence!!!! Oh, it already has. Just to remind you haters, the Republican Party swept the elections last November, guys. But, I agree with you all in this respect- that Shirvell ought to have been fired way back, before he even got started in his anti-homosexual activism. From this report, it doesnt look like he was a competent or professional in how he carried out his duties in the AG's Office

just an observer

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 2:52 p.m.

I don't like Mike Cox & I've stated my reasons. It has nothing to do with his party affiliation. I just want an elected official to walk his talk & not be duplicitous. There was no Republican or Catholic bashing coming from me --- Mike Cox bashing, yes with rationale!


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

As a conservative Catholic, I don't want anyone to think you are speaking for me. I really can't see any Catholic bashing and the only real thing about Republicans is a reference to ex-Attorney General Cox who got thumped in the Republican primaries. Does the Republican sweep somehow pertain to this sad event? I hope not, if it does there may be another sweep coming.

just an observer

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

I wasn't Catholic bashing. I am a Catholic & holding Mike Cox to the same standards I hold myself. Also, holding him to the same beliefs we learned growing up. Sins of omission (Oh, I forgot to mention he was co-director of my re-election campaign & oh, I forgot to mention he was arrested for driving impaired & oh, I forgot to mention that he was spoken to for using govt. equipment to send out nasty emails) & sins of commission (I believe in the sanctity of marriage & you gays cannot enjoy it but while I can, I'll still cheat on my wife) were sins when we were growing up & are still sins. My comment stated you can't be duplicitous -- you need to walk your talk.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

I believe Mr. Shirvell's rehabilitation, if he is to have any, will begin with an honest look in the mirror. But I wouldn't be surprised if this time bomb is heard from again. We can only hope he continues to fall on his own sword.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 9:43 p.m.

Certainly no one will say, "Oh, I never thought he was capable of doing THAT!!!"

Tony Dearing

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Comment have been removed because they violate our conversation guidelines. We welcome strong opinion, but comments that make statements or speculate about Andrew Shirvell's own sexual orientation violate our guidelines and will be removed.

just an observer

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

Tony -- I had two of my comments removed. Please tell me why.

just an observer

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

johnnya2 -- I was busy writing/posting my comment when you posted your comment. Amen brother! Cox acted so innocent & helpless on Anderson Cooper. What was he supposed to do! What a joke! He's a good Catholic boy. He knows the definition of "sins of omission" & "sins of commission". He's guilty of both!

just an observer

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

I'm no fan of Mike Cox. It was sad when Cox whined that there wasn't anything he could do about Shirvell's behavior. This was on national television -- I think on Anderson Cooper. Only when the pressure increased, did Cox order this investigation. Now we learn that the guy was unhinged many years prior. Also, Cox neglected to mention that Shirvell was a "deputy" in Cox's re-election campaign and also a generous donor. I hope Cox understands why he lost his bid for the governor's seat. You can't be duplicitous -- here's Mike Cox telling us he believes in the sanctity of marriage & that's why he against gay marriage or domestic partner benefits & we find out he's having an affair. (so much for the sanctity of his marriage.) Here's Mike Cox saying that the constitutional amendment passed in 2004 won't have any effect on already in place benefits for same sex couples & he proceeds to sue different municipalities & government agencies (such as the city of Kalamazoo & the AAPS). Here's Mike Cox telling us there's nothing he can do about Andrew Shirvell's protected 1st amendment behavior & we find out there several instances of inappropriate conduct prior to the Chris Armstrong case. And then there's Mike Cox telling us that Shirvell's a "grunt" (I believe that is Cox's word) employee but "grunt" enough to co-chair his re-election campaign & make monetary contributions. Wow!


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Out of everything I read about this tool, the one thing that nobody seems to bring up, is Mike Cox. Mike Cox hired him. Mike Cox supported him. This guy ran his campaign. Mike Cox allowed a person who drives IMPAIRED to be a prosecuting attorney. That alone should have had him fired IMMEDIATELY. This is not 1955 when "impaired" driving was acceptable. I think an investigation into Mike Cox and what he knew and when he knew it needs to be done. This is what you get when you allow republicans the keys to the car.

Chase Ingersoll

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

Watch who you group with whom. I'm a member of the Washtenaw GOP and our support for Cox was barely ahead of our support for Bernero. A number of us specifically took umbrage with The Michigan Right to Life endorsement support of Cox and pretty much cornered their rep and demanded that Right to Life start being transparent with their endorsement process. What we discovered in the discussion that ensued was the influence that major donors of Right to Life have on the endorsement process. Not cool in our opinion. Related to and likewise, you see people who volunteer for political campaigns who are then patronized for their loyalty with positions of employment by the public official whom they helped elect. A horrible condition of the system and nothing unusual with either party. The only option is to reduce the bureaucracy that creates this opportunity by its very nature, so that fewer of these situations exist. would not have been Cox, but rather the state of Michigan public service regulations....put in place by organized labor interests...that would have enabled Shirvell to keep his job despite the the "impaired" driving and other workplace incidents. The political bureaucracy that hired him, then could not fire him...without a great deal of trouble. If any liberal or progressive Democrats are interested in changing that situation and holding bureaucrats to the highest standard, they will find nothing but support with conservatives in Washtenaw County.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

"This is what you get when you allow republicans the keys to the car." This criticism of republicans in general is an extream statement. Regardless whether a politician has a -R or -D at the end of his name, their are incompetent politicians in both parties. But it is clear to me that you are just as closed minded as Mr. Shirvell.

Matt Cooper

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

And so by your logic, everybody that gets an impaired driving conviction should be immediately fired, whether or not that conviction has anything to do with work or not. C'mon. You know better.

David Briegel

Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

And, even here in Michigan there can be Justice.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

The "Radical Homosexual Agenda" that so many right wingers find reprehensible seems to be ; homosexuals are people and they deserve the same rights as everybody else. Shocking! Mr. Shirvell needs counseling, from a secular therapist.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

Me thinks he doth protest to much.