Second Michigan lawmaker punished after inflammatory statements on radio

State Rep. Gary Eisen says safety can’t be guaranteed during Electoral College meeting
State Rep. Gary Eisen
State Rep. Gary Eisen(source: State of Michigan)
Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 11:34 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - For the second time this month, a Michigan lawmaker was stripped of his legislative committee assignments after inflammatory statements made Monday morning.

Republican State Rep. Gary Eisen of St. Clair Township appeared on a radio show Monday morning, during which he commented that safety cannot be guaranteed when Michigan’s presidential electors meet in the State Capitol later in the day.

The Associated Press reported that he planned to help with an unspecified “Hail Mary” GOP plan to challenge the election, conceding the “uncharted” action likely would not change the result. Asked if he could guarantee people’s safety, he said “no.”

“We have been consistent in our position on issues of violence and intimidation in politics – it is never appropriate and never acceptable,” says a joint statement issued by Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth, both Republicans.

They have denounced threats made by Republicans and Democrats toward members of both parties.

“That applies to threats made toward public officials, and it must also apply when the public officials open the door to violent behavior and refuse to condemn it. We must do better,” the statement says. “We as elected officials must be clear that violence has no place in our democratic process. We must be held to a higher standard.”

Eisen’s removal from legislative committee assignments lasts for the next two weeks, when the Michigan Legislature’s current term ends on Dec. 31. He issued the following statement about the situation on Monday afternoon:

“I regret the confusion over my comments this morning, and I want to assure everyone that those of us who are supporting an alternative slate of electors intend to do so peacefully and legally. I wanted to attend today’s event to help prevent violence, not promote it. I no longer plan to go to the Capitol with that group today.

“My comments were meant to reflect that while our group intends to be peaceful, I did not feel I could speak for other groups. Apparently some people are making credible threats of violence today, and I am glad local law enforcement is on the scene preventing any such action and keeping everyone safe. Our group, who will also be at the Capitol today to request to be seated as electors, intends to participate in our democracy peacefully. We are all concerned about safety today and hopeful for a safe, legal and clear process at the Capitol.”

Chatfield and Wentworth also stripped Democrat State Rep. Cynthia Johnson of Detroit from her committee assignments earlier this month after she made allegedly threatening comments toward supporters of President Donald Trump on social media.

Johnson faced several threats as a member of the House Oversight Committee following a hearing when Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani asked legislators to overturn Michigan’s election results. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked Chatfield and Wentworth to reconsider their discipline.

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