September 28th, 2010
07:18 PM ET

Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student

Editor's Note: Watch Anderson's interview with Andrew Shirvell

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox wants to make something crystal clear: no one should mistake the opinions of Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Cox’s office, for being those of the Michigan Attorney General’s office itself.

For nearly six months, Shirvell has used his blog “Chris Armstrong Watch,” to shine an online spotlight on college student Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the student governmental body at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Using the online moniker “Concerned Michigan Alumnus,” Shirvell launched his blog in late April.

“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch,’” Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. “This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong – a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR – as the new head of student government.”

Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in “flagrant sexual promiscuity” with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing “a previously conservative [male] student” so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, “morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;” hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students “to join the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’”

In a statement provided to CNN Tuesday evening, Michigan’s top lawyer sought to put some daylight between his office and Shirvell's online behavior.

“Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” Cox said in the written statement provided by his office. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Contacted recently by CNN, Armstrong declined to comment on the record about Shirvell’s actions and would only say that he did not want to dignify Shirvell’s comments with a response and that he was pursuing legal action against Shirvell.

In previous interviews, Shirvell has made no apologies for his blog postings.

“Did he think he was just going to get some kind of free pass just because he’s gay or whatever?,” Shirvell said earlier this month with Detroit TV station WXYZ. “I mean, we’re all adults here and so, you know, we’re treating him like an adult with adult level criticism.”

Shirvell also told the local news station that his online postings were justified not because Armstrong is openly gay but because Armstrong is “somebody that’s there to promote special rights for homosexuals at the cost of, you know, heterosexual students.”

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Martina Stewart
soundoff (228 Responses)
  1. Laura Broviak

    Mike Cox needs to get rid of this guy before he has a larger problem on his hands. This guy has gone way too far...sounds like he has an abnormal fixation with Armstrong. Sounds like he has been stalking the student body president to me. Does thou protest to much against homosexuality...hmmm, where have we seen this before?

    September 28, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  2. Steve Markham

    When I first read this I thought it was a joke. This is so disturbing that it's difficult for me to formulate a comment that expresses my opinion about this man. He equates radical homosexual activists with liars, elitists and racists. That he is the attorney general makes it all the more alarming. How can anyone who is gay be able to get ahead in the attorney general's office or get fair legal representation? I hope Mr. Armstrong will carry out his threat to sue him and win for defamation of character.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  3. Steve Markham

    When I first read this I thought it was a joke. This is so disturbing that it's difficult for me to formulate a comment that expresses my opinion about this man. He equates radical homosexual activists with liars, elitists and racists. That he is the attorney general makes it all the more alarming. How can anyone who be able to get ahead in the attorney general's office or get fair legal representation? I hope Mr. Armstrong will carry out his threat to sue him and win for defamation of character.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  4. concerned closet alum

    so, what exactly are the heterosexual students at risk of losing? [this refers to the "at the cost of, you know, heterosexual students].

    and please, anyone who can, do offer an answer to this.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  5. john

    I'm a law student at Michigan, and on my walk from school, I've seen this guy standing on the sidewalk in front of Mr. Armstrong's house, saying the rosary and holding up a poster board advertising his blog. Mr. Anderson, why on earth would you interview this guy? He obviously seeks attention, and while there might be a story with regards to his employer, I'm not sure he deserves the opportunity to take his cause to your audience. Mr. Armstrong has stated specifically to CNN that he does not wish to dignify this nonsense with any comment. Why do you choose to treat this as a national news story? Is this for the sake of offering both sides the opportunity to speak to maintain some sort of "balance," or is this an easy way to rile up your viewers?

    September 28, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  6. Maria Castellanos

    Dear Mr Cooper: There are more interesting news than this one. Do you really think that the student Chris Armstrong is not capable of defending his points of view at the University campus instead of showing all this in national tv?
    We as parents and as your television viewers are more worried about the gunshot that took place at University of Texas at Austin and all the other things that are happening around the world.
    Sorry but I think you have done better interviews than this one you done to Andrew Shirvell.
    Think about it.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  7. jon roderick williams

    Is this really news thats fit for prime time on national tv?? CNN and its closet gay anchor were very close to being out of the closet on this one almost 15 minutes on an obviously unbalanced man bashing a gay student..the bigger news a closet gay national news anchor bashing him on CNN!!!!!!!!!! Whats next Halloween in the Castro??

    September 28, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  8. Tony Smith

    Mr. Shirvell is an assistant attorney general of the state of Michigan?! He came over like a particularly unpleasant and immature high schooler.If the people of Michigan watch this interview,Mr.Armstrong will not need to say a word to defend himself.Attorney General Mike Cox will though.By not laughing in his face, Mr. Cooper, you showed amazing professionalism and restraint.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  9. Trina Taylor

    It is obvious to me that Asst. MI Attorney General, Andrew Shirell, has in the past or is presently struggling with his OWN sexuality issues. I think he is conflicted because of his Christian belief's and is misdirecting his disgust toward Chris Armstrong instead of himself.

    Trina, CO

    September 28, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  10. Robert

    As a proud gay, Christian man in my 30's, I pray that Andrew Shirvell will someday fully understand the ramifications of the absolutely un-Christian and unethical behavior that he has demonstrated.

    Free speech is one thing; but perhaps Mr. Shirvell needs to return to Kindergarten, where one learns that "unless you have something constructive to say, not to say anything at all." His preposterous commentary is without any merit, and simply hatred-based.

    How did a man such as this become an assistant attorney general? The country must be going insane to allow someone with this much hatred and reckless judgment achieve public office.

    Mr. Shirvell, please see a well-reputed psychotherapist. I'm afraid you have a lot of mind and soul-searching to do.

    And shame on attorney general Mike Cox – is this all you have to say – that no one should mistake Mr. Shirvell's words for your position on this issue? That is as shallow a response as it is cowardly. You should openly rebuke Mr. Shirvell's position and suggest that he step down as a public figure.

    Thank you.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  11. cgong

    this guy is scary – I am embarrassed to say I am from Michigan

    Not sure if the governor can fire this guy – but he is obviously sick

    Thanks for bringing this to national attention!

    September 28, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  12. Lois

    I was absolutely horrified by this story. My 65 year old mother's bottom lip was literally in her lap the entire interview. I am a 29 year old straight non religious female and I am absolutely at my wits end with the misrepresentation of the man that was Jesus. The Bible and its followers have ruined this country and created just as much hate as the people they call terrorist. I feel sad to be part of this day and age. Although I once dreamt of being a mom, in my soul, due to stories like this and other issues in the world, many organized religion based, I do not feel I can consiously do so. Christianity is making this country an atrosity.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  13. RosaFranklin

    Whoooooaaaaa. This guy is crazy. I don't know about Michigan, but at my university, the student body president didn't really have much in the way of, you know, power. I don't care how many orgies he may or may not have had, there's no need to keep a "watch" on him.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  14. Quentin

    Anderson, I have always been a fan of your ability to maintain your objectivity however; this story was not par for the course. Though I appreciate your aggressive technique with the Assistant AG, I would greatly appreciate your utilization of said technique at all times with all guests. More specifically, those of the liberal and far left democratic persuasion. I find that you, more often than not, give that demographic too much freedom and fail to challenge them, their points, or arguments. Research those individuals and argue the opposing view with them as thoroughly as you did the Assistant AG. Still your fan! Quentin

    September 28, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  15. David Bowles

    Why does Andrew Shirvell get air time, and not Chris Armstrong? Another case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease, or is it easier in general for homophobes to air their grievances on national television networks?

    September 28, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  16. jefferson

    This Gentleman is obviously a bigot and on a personal vendetta against Mr.Armstrong.

    Mr. Cox should fire him immediately, else this should rub off on him.

    Watching the interview Anderson Cooper did with him, I was struck by the thought of how this individual ever attained the Assistant Attorney General position to begin with.

    Have they completely lost their minds in Michigan?

    He frightens me and reminds me of how the Nazi's most likely got their start in Germany....

    September 28, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  17. Christina Glover

    Wow, I can not believe this idiot to claim political agendas for explaining his actions! What does this tell us about politics? If Shrivell gets away with attacking a college student, on the basis of sexuality, our country is in extreme danger. Furthermore, his second explanation, promoting coed gender dorms, still doesn't give him the right to be that ugly and he has no facts. You are right, Shrivell is a cyberbully and I hope justice prevails in this case.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  18. Marco

    Individuals like this who have such a strong agenda to denigrate others , but in this case specifically gays, can frequently have motives that are self serving and bring into question their own sexual identities. In reading his comments it first came to me that he comes across as a jilted lover.

    Normal heterosexual males who are comfortable with their sexual identities don't have any ax to grind and are OK with who they are. It is those who are insecure about their sexuality that have a need to attack in order to divert attention from themselves.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:37 pm |
  19. Janice Cua

    It's unthinkable that the State of Michigan would allow this man to keep his job' He is obviously radically stalking this student' What are they waiting for? This guy is crazy, obsessed and might shoot this kid'

    Since this has been brought to the attention of the media and public, if the State of Michigan can't stop him, The President of the United States should, or be held responsible for anything that might happen to this student because of this fanatic creep'

    September 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  20. valwayne

    I believe in free speech, but an Assistant Attorney General should for a state the size of MI should have enough common sense not to behave this way in a public forum. It displays such incredibly poor judgement that it calls into question whether he should be working in such a sensitive high profile position?

    September 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  21. Marilyn Poole

    Conservative Cox needs to be followed as much as Shirvell, he has the choice of continued employment by the taxpayers as an attorney fighting for the peoples' justice. Lying Bullies if allowed, will get power.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  22. Scott Castillo

    Some of this behavior, calling Mr. Armstrong a Nazi and a racist, does not seem like behavior that a concerned Public Attorney would engage in. The allegations are obviously broad and not subject to rational substantiation. After all, has Mr. Armstrong been part of any pogroms recently, or publicly denounced the rights of other persons simply based on the color or their skin? Has he encouraged or engaged in the discrimination of others based upon their sexual orientation, or simply tried to broaden the rights of his own group? You would think that a Public Attorney would be aware of the importance of being as accurate as possible with public statements.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  23. Dennis E. Whitehead

    I was shocked and appalled to hear Shirvell's comments when he was interviewed by AC. This man is a disgrace to his office, and his harassment of Mr. Armstrong is nothing short of an embarrasment for the state of Michigan. He can talk all he likes about his right to do as he wishes in his spare time, but firstly he is a state officer, and that means upholding the rights of its citizens no matter their "sexual preferences".
    Mr. Cox needs to do his job, and demand the resignation of Shirvell immediately.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  24. Terry Berry

    Thank you for this story. I live in Michigan and was not aware that this was happening. I am sorry that Chris and his friends and family are living through this harrasment being perpetrated by this public servant who is paid by us. This behavior is INEXCUSABLE! I will be calling Mike Cox's office in the morning (His office does not allow for messages.)

    September 28, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  25. Douglas Barry

    Shirvell says he is a Christian, but his actions are not Christian. I doubt that Christ would approve of his actions or attitude. He is obsessed and I'm proud of Chris Armstrong for for being strong, and
    yielding to this hatred. Obviously Chris Armstrong is loved by his fellow students.
    Thank you for following this story.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  26. Jill

    It's terrifying that someone like Mr. Shirvell is employed in the state AG's office. His behavior is far beyond "immature" and lacking in judgment. Dear God – imagine being this college student or his parents. Shirvell's behavior is shocking and offensive and deeply personal. I agree with Jeffrey Toobin – the real question is why has Mike Cox not fired him? Can he really still have a job in the morning?

    September 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  27. Fran Hynek

    Wow, this guy spends a lot of time on this blog. Chris Armstrong should watch his back....this is a little scary. He is fixated on him for some reason...maybe he is jealous?

    September 28, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  28. michael kinney

    Great interview Anderson! Keep the interviews like this coming. Smart, in their face, holding them accountable.
    Great job

    September 28, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  29. Caleb

    I can not express how disappointed I am at the lack of action on the part of the acting political bodies of the state of Michigan. I am a 30 y/o straight male, full time student in upstate New York. Perhaps Chris's successful election is just another sign that the upcoming generation is more concerned with the needs of the general populace than the ambitions of their own personal gains.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
  30. Aaron

    The interview with him on Anderson Cooper was absolutely crazy. The guy is obviously obsessed with this kid. I am amazed the Attorney General has not fired this guy yet. Thank you for the article

    September 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  31. Shauna

    Thank you Anderson for shining a light on this offensive little man that is bullying the student. I am shocked and appalled.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  32. Jim Bob

    Shirvell is a disgrace and shame to America's righteousness.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  33. Kingsley

    This is a horrific display of politics in America. How can we defend the constitution while behaving in these fashions? How can all men be created equal when this is how men treat each other? We are a truly horrible country with evil and horrible people, that live and breathe intolerance towards each other. The United States has become a closet capital of intolerance, secretively in denial that anyone here is intolerant.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  34. Karen

    Wow! I am thoroughly embarrassed to have someone like Andrew Shirvell representing the people of Michigan. And shame on Mike Cox for hiding behind his own views on gay rights and not firing Shirvell months ago. Watching and listening to Shirvell speak on ac360 reminded me of listening to former President Bush (W.); just plain embarrassing.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  35. Ken G.

    I am beginning to think that this Michigan assistant State Attorney General man may be having some insecurity issues about his own sexual preference and may be why he is way over the top in his protesting of this student. His fascination with this college student is curious to me.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  36. Rev. William H. Carey

    Shirvell's ignorance and grade school behavior are a major embarrassment to our State. The AG's office should fire him for his actions, and I hope that Armstrong's lawsuit against him puts a stop to his childish behavior and blatant lies.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  37. Bob

    This guy is spreading a message of hate and should be fired for this. He is a disgrace and should not be in office. How is this allowed.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  38. Lynn

    He assistant AG is guilty of bad judgment at minimum and outright hate speech at most. He should be removed from office forthwith. If he was saying these things of a black or other minority student would he be allowed this latitude?

    September 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  39. Robert - NYC

    The Asst AG needs to be fired. His despicable comments are indeed too far and the AG Mike Cox, if he cares at all about his job and getting re-elected, is going to have to fire Andrew Shirvell and be held liable for harassment and defamation of character.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  40. Angela C.

    I am disgusted that this individual is part of the Justice system in the State of Michigan. As a taxpayer of the state, I feel that Mike Cox needs to remove this individual from his office immediately. It is disturbing that this man is working as a public official for the state when he is the one who needs help.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  41. tyler

    Regarding the assistant AG in MI and his supposed right to exercise his free speech. Grow up! I live in Michigan–with the our high unemployment rates, does he not realize how precious his job is right now and how easily he can be replaced by someone just as– if not more qualified and definitely more mature! I am so against all forms of social media because I think it is dangerous. I've got two children 12 and 10 I am trying to raise and teach them the dangers of these outlets and this is a prime example. Mike Cox, please lead by example and let this young boy go!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  42. Bhavik

    Really? Why concern yourself with what a 21 year old college student does. I understand he is the student council president, but be became so by his peers, obviously they approve of his ideas. So the guy , Shirver (?), needs to lay off. He is a grown man with a job, apparently, he wants to spend his spare time stalking and attacking a college student. Also, Anderson, good job sweating him. Should of have told him to grow up, in a bit of unprofessional-ism.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  43. Lisa Bolo

    Anderson, Thank you so much for reporting on this issue. It is so appalling to me that there are parts of the U.S. where anti-gay discrimination is so strong. Keep doing what you are doing. You give lots of us faith that real reporting can be done in America.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  44. Fran

    If this isn't a case of cyber bullying, I don't know what is. I just saw the interview and it seems to me that Shirvell is a very disturbed person, and I wonder how fit he is to serve the public. I don't live in Michigan, but if I did, I'd tart a campaign to get rid of him. How dare a public official that's supposed to serve as arole model, act the way he is. he certainly has a right to his opinion, but the degree to which he is going after Chris Armstrong is downright scary.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  45. Steve

    Ok this is just silly. Fire the guy and its all over. End of discussion. Hes crazy.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  46. Marco

    It just looks to me that Mr Andrew Shirvell is obsessed with Mr Armstrong. He sounds like a scorn woman. I think there just might be something more to Mr Shirvell actions toward Mr Armstrong.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  47. Brenda

    I believe this man Shirvell should be fired. He is not psychological fit for the job. He is bullying a kid. Calling him names ,it is outrageous.
    This is not freedom of speech .

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  48. Michael Schumann

    His personal opinions may be his own, but his actions are inconsistent with the decorum and professionalism expected of a person in his public position. If he will not resign, he should be forced out of his office by the civilized citizens of Michigan.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  49. R Aiudi

    This is really so interesting. The famous Shakespeare line "The lady doth protest too much methinks" comes to mind. As a gay man I've always noticed that people who hate gay men so much, usually ARE gay men. After seeing Shrivell tonight on AC360, my honest feeling that he's dealing with his own gay feelings and focusing them on the wrong guy. It's amazing to have watched that tonight – it borders on astounding.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  50. Ian

    This is why I'm happy to live in Canada. While I like the US and Americans, this kind of hatred being covered under the guise of free speech is insane.

    Mr Shirvell is blindly denying that he is a bigot and a cyber bully while displaying all of the attributes of both.

    I hope that Mr Armstrong's election to student counsel is a sign that the next generation will be more accepting of different people that Mr Shirvell's.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
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