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Michigan AG Fires Asst. AG for Harassing Gay University Student

Michigan AG Fires Asst. AG for Harassing Gay University Student

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox on Monday fired Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell for conduct unbecoming a state employee and misuse of state resources after Shirvell created a sustained smear campaign harassing the first openly gay student assembly president of the University of Michigan.

Shirvell, a former University of Michigan student himself, is found to have engaged in an alarming physical and online campaign designed to have Armstrong resign his post.

As well as shadowing Armstrong’s movements, including standing outside Armstrong’s residence in the early hours of the morning, Shirvell created a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch in which he made a number of demonstrably false claims about Armstrong, his family and friends. On the blog Shirvell labeled Armstrong an elitist liar, a racist and an anti-Christian menace determined to push a homosexual agenda. He also accused Armstrong of holding on-campus gay orgies and engaging in underage drinking.

Above you can see Shirvell left, and an image Shirvell doctored of Chris Armstrong on the right. The latter appeared on the Chris Armstrong Watch blog. The blog has since been removed from public access. Shirvell originally started the blog under the moniker of “Concerned Michigan Alumnus” before being exposed.

AG Mike Cox has come under increasing pressure to fire Shirvell, but because Shirvell was a state employee, he enjoyed a job security that limited the ways in which he could be removed from his position.

Cox had previously said that, while he disagreed with Shirvell’s bullying tactics, what Shirvell did in his off-time fell under the purview of his First Amendment rights— even though concerns were raised that Shirvell had clearly overstepped those bounds. As such, since the news story broke, Shirvell has been on paid administrative leave while an investigation by Cox’s office was underway.

On Monday, Mike Cox’s staff released notice that Shirvell had been fired after the investigation determined that he had in fact used state resources and time to wage his anti-gay campaign against Armstrong and that he had committed acts of bullying clearly not protected under freedom of speech. The investigation also found that, when quizzed over his conduct, Shirvell had lied to investigators.

Below is a statement by Mike Cox which gives more details into the extent of Shirvell’s actions.

Via WXYZ.com:

STATEMENT FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL MIKE COX:

Today, Andrew Shirvell was fired for conduct unbecoming a state employee, especially that of an Assistant Attorney General.

To be clear, I refuse to fire anyone for exercising their First Amendment rights, regardless of how popular or unpopular their positions might be.

However, Mr. Shirvell repeatedly violated office policies, engaged in borderline stalking behavior, and inappropriately used state resources, our investigation showed.

For example, Mr. Shirvell:

* Showed up at the home of a private citizen three separate times, including once at 1:30 A.M. That incident is especially telling because it clearly was about harassing Mr. Armstrong, not engaging in free speech.

* Further engaged in behavior that, while not perhaps sufficient to charge criminal stalking, was harassing, uninvited and showed a pattern that was in the everyday sense, stalking.

This included:

* Harassing Armstrong’s friends as they were socializing in Ann Arbor;
* Numerous calls to Speaker Pelosi’s office, Armstrong’s employer, in an attempt to slander Armstrong – and ultimately attempting to cause Pelosi to fire Armstrong;
* Attempting to “out” Armstrong’s friends as homosexual – several of whom were not gay.

Additionally, Shirvell engaged in his campaign on company time. Shirvell called Pelosi’s office while at work, during working hours. And, Shirvell would, at times, post attacks on Armstrong on the Internet while at work.

Finally, Shirvell lied to investigating assistant attorneys general on several occasions during his disciplinary hearing.

The cumulative effects of his use of state resources, harassing conduct that is NOT protected by the First Amendment, and his lies during the disciplinary conference all demonstrate adequate evidence of conduct unbecoming a state employee. Ultimately, Mr. Shirvell’s conduct has brought his termination from state service.

This may not be the end in this case however: Armstrong has filed a complaint with the Attorney Grievance Commission. Should Armstrong’s complaint be validated by the commission, it is possible that Shirvell could be disbarred.

Shirvell’s attorney believes Shirvell has been bullied by the liberal media. Armstrong’s attorney has gone on record, calling Shirvell a “loose cannon.”

From CNN:

“This smells political to me,” Thomas told the newspaper. “There’s been a tremendous piling-on against Andrew. The liberal media started this tempest in a teapot.”

Gordon responded by telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night that she felt it was “pathetic and lame for (Shirvell) to be whining about being bullied.”

[...]

Gordon [Armstrong's attorney] said that she and her client aren’t done going after Shirvell. That includes trying to have him disbarred as a licensed attorney in Michigan. She said investigators’ finding that Shirvell lied to the attorney general’s office is central to their case.

“This man is a loose cannon with a law license,” said Gordon.

You can read our previous coverage of this story with excerpts from the Chris Armstrong Watch blog here.

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WXYZ7.com, no infringement intended
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85 comments

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6:45PM PST on Nov 21, 2010

All comments noted. thanx

2:12AM PST on Nov 20, 2010

It is good that he is out of the picture. Good for the school.

10:20PM PST on Nov 17, 2010

Think your hot stuff well you just got burned. Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

11:36AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

I think if you really want to show this useless piece of well you know by charging him with hate crimes

9:57AM PST on Nov 15, 2010

And it's about time! Expressing a dissenting opinion is one thing, but harassing another for their life is obscene and depraved. this former employee needs some real medical intervention by professionals.

7:41AM PST on Nov 14, 2010

one can express their opinion without personally attacking an individual....and doing so as a public official was rather dumb.

4:52AM PST on Nov 12, 2010

We should all grow up enough to not worry about anyone else sexual orientation. We should have enough sense to refrain from making a pass at someone who might not appreciate it. A little more female modesty like less display of cleavage would be nice. But if we would all just mind our own business life would be pleasanter all around.

5:49PM PST on Nov 11, 2010

Good to see this kind of action after all the tragic teen suicides. Hopefully a clear message is being sent.

4:26PM PST on Nov 11, 2010

Goes to show that outing corrupt student politicians means hewing to a better standard of conduct than you're seeing in them. "Obsessive" tracking work should be left to a P.I.

But I'm troubled by the coverage in this story: less than a paragraph of content attempts to explain Shirvell's side of the story -- yet it's obvious that his attorney made a statement to the media. There should have been a better recounting of it. I also remember that charges of insanity were commonly directed by authoritarian governments against people whose opinions dissented from the official propaganda. The barbs against Andrew Shirvell suggest something similar.

Now Armstrong's attorney is preparing the next phase of legal action? For all the talk about Shirvell pursuing Armstrong, it's begun to look like it's the other way around!

8:06AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

James R. Stewart, if what STRAIGHT people do in their bedrooms really were strictly private and personal and no one else's business as you insist then there would be 1) no engagment or wedding announcements in newspapers 2) marriages would be behind closed doors with no guests, if they occured at all 3) no one would wear a symbol like a wedding ring openly 4) there def. wouldn't be any birth announcements in fact if you were expecting a baby you wouldn't tell anyone 5) spouses wouldn't share last names with each other esp. not with their children 6) you would never, ever display a photo of your family or even mention them at all.

being "grossed out" by someone else's sex life is very immature and your immaturity is NOT a good reason for someone else NOT to have sex.

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