The supposed party of family values has struck again. This Tuesday, Michigan state Senator Peter Lucido, who is a Republican, publicly sexually harassed reporter Allison Donahue, who’d been trying to ask him about his membership in a Facebook group that included advocacy of physical violence against Democrats. Instead of actually engaging with her question, he first turned to address a group of students from a Catholic all-boys high school — and before he did so, right there in front of the students and anyone else passing by, he commented that the boys “could have a lot of fun” with Donahue. Lucido has since issued an extremely terse so-called apology.
After Lucido asked the reporter if she’d heard of the school — called De La Salle Collegiate — and Donahue said she had not, the state Senator commented:
‘It’s an all boys’ school. You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you.’
Donahue explains that at that point, the group of about thirty teenagers “burst into an Old Boys’ Network-type of laughter,” and she “walked away knowing that I had been the punchline of their “locker room” talk,” which had been led by an old white man serving in a top position in the state Senate with the Republican Party.
Initially, after Donahue pointed out that he likely would not have made a similar comment to someone who was male or even female and older than her (she’s 22), the state Senator dismissed her concern by insisting his remarks had been “nothing disingenuous.”
Later, he issued the terse “apology”:
‘I apologize for the misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue.’
And that’s it.
The leaders of both the Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate joined together to call for an investigation into Lucido’s behavior, although it’s unclear what kind of discipline for the state Senator could result. Still, in a letter to the Senate Business Office, State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D) insisted:
‘Sexual harassment has no place in the Michigan Senate. We take these allegations very seriously and trust that you will take appropriate action to resolve this matter.’
Separately, Ananich added:
‘What his statement, his apology was basically saying is, ‘I’m sorry you realize I’m a jerk, and I’m a creep.’ Leaders in this state, whether they’re men or women, they don’t act like this.’
Lucido didn’t exactly have a reassuring response to Donahue’s question about his membership in a violent Facebook group that targeted Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. He said “the fact that people talk crap back and forth on that page, that’s their crap, not mine,” which suggests that he knew about the violence but didn’t care enough to even leave the group. He has recently suggested that he may launch a campaign to unseat Whitmer in 2022.
Whitmer actually got a national mention this week at the final Democratic presidential primary debate ahead of the first votes in the race, which will be tallied up in Iowa in early February. She’s one of a number of women candidates who’ve enjoyed striking success with their campaigns launched in the shadow of the relentless misogyny of Donald Trump.