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Grievance officer: Sacked Assistant AG made ‘media spectacle of himself’

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
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LANSING, Mich. — A grievance officer of the state Civil Service Commission on Tuesday ruled that former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell had made a “media spectacle” of himself and the state’s attorney general’s office after publishing a blog attacking the former University of Michigan student body president for his alleged “radical homosexual agenda.”

Andrew Shirvell

Shirvell had appealed his firing from the attorney general’s office after then-Attorney General Mike Cox fired him in November 2010, finding that Shirvell had lied to his superiors and used state equipment for publishing his blog.

In his report, grievance officer William Hutchens wrote that Shirvell’s conduct was “unbecoming a state employee.”

“The pattern of conduct in which he engaged constituted hate speech, physical and mental harassment of citizens of this state and a nexus was established between that conduct and his position as an Assistant Attorney General.

[...] (Shirvell) has been determined, in the course of this fact-finding and opinion, to have engaged in harassing conduct of the basest sort. As was noted above, it is disheartening to see a bright individual with a great deal of potential engage in such conduct: The fact that the grievant deliberately made a media spectacle of himself and the department for which he worked without regard for the interests of his employer constitutes conduct unbecoming a state employee.”

Shirvell’s attorney, Phil Thomas, said the decision is one more example of the state “trampling” on Shirvell’s First Amendment rights, reported the Detroit Free Press.

“Hutchens justified Mr. Shirvell’s firing based on what he called Mr. Shirvell’s ‘hate speech.’ Hutchens’ characterization of Mr. Shirvell’s blog is based on his own biased opinion and not on the evidence in the record,” Thomas said, adding that Shirvell will appeal the decision.

For nearly six months in 2010, Shirvell waged an online campaign against Chris Armstrong, the openly gay student body president of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Shirvell used his blog to continuously attack and harass Armstrong, calling his a “radical homosexual activist,” a “racist, elitist and liar,” and “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”

Shortly before he was fired, Shirvell appeared on CNN’s, “AC 360,” and made no apologies for his blog postings, which include an image of Armstrong with “Resign” written over his face. The picture included a swastika superimposed over a gay pride flag, with an arrow pointing toward Armstrong.

“I’m a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights,” Shirvell told Anderson Cooper.

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“I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he’s advancing a radical homosexual agenda,” he said.

Shirvell, a graduate of the university, cited Armstrong’s support of gender-neutral housing on campus for transgender students who had not yet had sexual reassignment surgery.

During the hearing, Cox testified he thought Shirvell’s behavior “constituted a threat to the mission of the agency,” and that his office received more than 22,000 phone calls, emails and letters demanding Shirvell be fired.

Shirvell and Armstrong are currently engaged in civil lawsuits against each other.

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