WASHINGTON — Michigan Senate Republican Leader Mike Shirkey had yet another scandal-filled week. As one of Michigan's highest ranking Republican officials, Senator Shirkey faced a deep-dive on his ties to right-wing, extremist militia groups and was caught on videotape spreading wild conspiracy theories and making sexist comments. Even the Republican Michigan House Speaker condemned his comments, but so far there is little sign that Shirkey’s leadership is in jeopardy.
The New York Times released a thorough investigation detailing Shirkey's embrace of extremist militia groups. In an interview with the paper, he even said he empathized with the violent mob that stormed the Capitol, explaining “I understand where they come from.” Previous reporting revealed his private meeting with militia leaders that came just a month before individuals linked to militia groups were charged in a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
- He was caught on tape calling the riots at the Capitol a “hoax” and said that Mitch McConnell may have been in on the supposed conspiracy. He went on to imply that there are “puppeteers” controlling elected officials.
- He also made comments challenging Governor Whitmer to “a fistfight” and used sexist language to describe his interactions with her, bragging about “spanking her” on the state budget.
- Shirkey’s office issued a tepid, mealy-mouthed statement apologizing for “the words [he] chose,” but he was later caught on a hot mic saying “I frankly don’t take back any of the points I was trying to make.”
While appalling, Mike Shirkey’s track record during his leadership tenure is hardly an anomaly among elected Republicans. The DLCC has spent the weeks since the violent insurrection of Capitol Hill highlighting the role that GOP officials across the country played in the grievous assault on our democracy. Few, if any, have shown the courage to confront the danger their own party poses to the future of this country. Michigan Senate Republicans voted for Mike Shirkey to represent them as the leader of their caucus and the Senate—do they still stand with him?
“The crisis in our democracy runs much deeper than Donald Trump,” said DLCC President Jessica Post. “Republican leaders like Mike Shirkey have embraced and coddled violent extremists while they spread misinformation that undermines our governing institutions. Our country is not safe while people like Mike Shirkey hold any power, and Michigan Senate Republicans have to decide if they stand with Mike Shirkey and his conspiracy theories or with Michiganders who don’t want extremists running their government.”