Michigan GOP lawmaker punished for not denouncing violence

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker was disciplined Monday for not denouncing potential violence at the Michigan Capitol before Democratic presidential electors were to meet to vote for Joe Biden, who won the state over President Donald Trump.

State Rep. Gary Eisen of St. Clair Township told WPHM-AM 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.”

House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth, both Republicans, removed Eisen from committees in the closing days of the two-year session. In a statement, they said threats or suggestions of violence in politics are never acceptable, including “when the public officials open the door to violent behavior and refuse to condemn it. We must do better.”

The 16 electors and top Democratic state officials such as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were scheduled to gather in the Senate chamber Monday afternoon.

The Capitol was closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions because neither the House nor Senate were in session, though some Republicans — including Eisen — were critical of the closure on the day of the Electoral College meeting. Legislative offices in the statehouse and nearby buildings also were closed due to “credible threats of violence,” a Senate spokeswoman said.

Eisen was among 15 Republican legislators and four GOP congressmen in Michigan who signed onto a Texas lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to set aside votes in four states due to baseless claims of widespread fraud, including Michigan. The court dismissed the case.

Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders have said the Legislature followed state law in not overturning Biden’s 154,000-vote victory, a margin of 2.8 percentage points.

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