LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Today Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel submitted the following statement to the Court as part of Robert Tesh’s sentencing in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Tesh pleaded guilty but mentally ill in August after threatening to kill Nessel and Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year.
“I thank you for the opportunity to be heard by the Court today. Having served as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, I have been in the position to hear from victims in countless cases about the impact a crime has had on their lives. Though I had hoped not to be in this position myself, their words take on new meaning as I write to you today.
“As the current Attorney General of the State of Michigan, and its chief law enforcement officer, I am charged with protecting victims of crime in this state. But I do not write this letter today in that capacity. I write as a concerned citizen, and a loving wife and mother.
“I know it’s difficult for people to separate public officials from their positions and see them as people. But I am a person – a person blessed with a wonderful wife and two incredible teenage sons – I am person who worries about her family and every day is scared that doing a job I love will endanger them. I am an elected official, but the impact of this crime is no different than if I were not.
“Mr. Tesh’s actions deeply impacted my family. My wife was terrified to be in our home and one of my sons began to suffer from anxiety when learning of this incident. For months, each time a car would drive by the house, we would wonder if it was someone who was going to hurt us. My son would go to bed at night fearful that it would be the night Mr. Tesh or someone else would carry out threats to murder us.
“This is not how it should be. The deluge of threats that public officials have faced in the last year is unprecedented and unacceptable. No public official should be frightened of doing their job. I have always supported the public’s right to disagree and voice that disagreement, it’s our First Amendment right as Americans. But when that disagreement crosses the line into a politically-motivated threat of violence, it must be prosecuted. And I applaud Prosecutor Kym Worthy for doing that here. Prosecutor Worthy is sending a strong and clear message that violent threats will not be tolerated and there will be serious consequences if and when they occur.
“As a public official, I receive death threats on a regular basis. However, I fiercely reject the idea that those threats are “just part of the job” of being a public official. No one goes into public service envisioning that death threats will become part of their daily life, and no one should. And besides the fear they instill, threats to many public officials – the Governor, the Secretary of State, judges, local clerks, public health officials across the state – are driving away dedicated, passionate advocates from running for public office. It becomes a tragic state of affairs for our society when qualified and devoted people are discouraged from public service over threats to their safety or to that of their family.
“Prosecuting these violent and disturbing cases is critical for our state and for our nation. America is not a place where government officials should be made to choose between doing their jobs and the threat of losing their lives. There must be serious consequences for these actions. Violent threats to public officials erode the very foundations of our democracy – attacking the independence of public officials on both sides of the aisle as well as those in non-partisan positions – by instilling the terror of assaultive acts. Democracies die when elected officials are intimidated into submission. And good candidates for public office must be free to run and serve with the understanding that threats made against them will have serious consequences for the perpetrators.
“I thank you for the opportunity to address the Court and for your consideration in this important matter.”