Why did it take so long for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox to dismiss assistant attorney Andrew Shirvell? Because the two are politically and financially intertwined. “Intertwined” in a way the totally heterosexual Shirvell would never be caught with another dude. Because he’s straight. And hates gays!
While Cox this week told television viewers he wasn’t going to fire Shirvell because of First Amendment rights, Anderson Cooper’s team might’ve found a better reason. Going through Michigan’s campaign finance records The Coop said last night there are multiple payments from the Cox campaign to Shirvell, all the way back to 2002, with consulting and payroll fees and other expenses going to Shirvell’s pocket. (Cox refused to return to AC360.)
Shirvell is currently on a “voluntary” leave of absence and will face disciplinary hearings upon his return to work. But that so-called punishment arrives only after blogs and the media began digging around Shirvell’s history (which includes, in addition to running the now-offline blog Chris Armstrong Watch, marching with the Westboro Baptist Church).
What’s becoming clear is that Shirvell isn’t just a staffer in Cox’s attorney general office, but a political ally to his boss. (It would surprise me at this point if Shirvell’s job in the AG’s office is really just a “thank you” for helping out with the campaign.) Except Cox can’t continue defending Shirvell now that the story has blown up this wide. Thus, the
suspension leave of absence. Don’t be shocked if Shirvell is able to quietly return to this post once this story blows offer.
On AC360 last night, Michigan State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith says she’s had “hostile” and “rather intimidating” run-ins with Shirvell, including his “aggressive” campaign to keep her off the board of an Ann Arbor bank because she’s pro-choice; Shirvell contacted the bank president, a Catholic, and pressured him to keep her off the board. (Meanwhile: Does anyone else have a problem with a state lawmaker sitting on the board of a for-profit bank? Anyone?) The bank president ended up ignoring Shirvell’s demand. Wheeler Smith is among those who thinks Shirvell must be dismissed.
So too is David Leyton, the Democrat running to succeed Cox as AG. He’s already calling for Cox to permanently fire Shirvell.
And while Cox isn’t sticking around — he’s got about three months left on the job — that he’s so close with guys like Shirvell, and will go on national television to defend him, it’s indicative of the type of behavior Cox might be willing to tolerate at every level.