The top Republican in the Michigan Senate referred to the violent Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., as a “hoax” in a meeting with county party leaders, a video recording of the interaction shows.
In a video shot at Spangler’s Family Restaurant in Jonesville, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, falsely claimed supporters of President Donald Trump were not at fault in the storming of the U.S. Capitol building.
“That’s been a hoax from day one,” Shirkey said, later adding that what occurred was “all staged” and implied Sen. Mitch McConnell and other leaders “wanted to have a mess.”
The recording lasts for more than an hour and shows Shirkey arguing with members of the Hillsdale County Republican Party about his pending censure from the party in between ordering food and drinks. He frequently used expletives and discussed a wide range of issues with the group, ranging from the election results to his support of banning open carry in the Michigan Capitol building.
Elsewhere in the conversation, Shirkey remarked that he contemplated inviting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer “to a fistfight on the Capitol lawn” and “spanked” her on a number of issues.
“We’ve spanked her hard on the budget, spanked her hard on appointments,” he said.
The recording was filmed by Hillsdale County Republican Party Secretary Jon Smith, who confirmed to an MLive reporter that he recorded the video.
Hillsdale County Republican Party Chair Daren Wiseley declined to comment on whether he agreed with Shirkey’s position that what transpired in Washington was a hoax, but said he was surprised by his remarks.
“I was surprised Shirkey openly said it was a hoax,” Wiseley said. “That doesn’t really seem like a position he’d hold.”
In a statement issued Tuesday evening by Shirkey’s office, he is quoted apologizing for the comments, noting he has “many flaws,” including “being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue.”
“I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve,” the statement reads. “I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.”
House Democratic Leader Donna Laskinsi, D-Scio Township, said the comments raised questions about Shirkey’s fitness to lead.
“We would expect such comments from a leader of a QAnon chat group or local militia chapter – not the Majority Leader of the Michigan Senate,” she said in a statement. “Claiming the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a ‘hoax’ is a slap in the face to the law enforcement there that day and to the people who died and were injured.”
The executive board of the Hillsdale County Republican Party voted 14 to 5 on the censure vote on Thursday, Feb. 4. They said Shirkey, whose district includes Jackson, Hillsdale and Branch counties, wasn’t doing enough to push back against Whitmer’s coronavirus-related measures that shut down businesses and was not doing enough to support conservative values like Second Amendment rights.
A censure vote is an expression of formal disapproval in a lawmaker. It’s a largely symbolic gesture coming from a county known for its conservatism and nearby Hillsdale College.
During the recorded meeting with members of the county party, Shirkey told the group, “I don’t give a s***,” about the censure and pushed back on some of the critiques of his record.
He told the Hillsdale Republican officials that if they continue with an “extremist” strategy, rural supporters of the party will suffer in future elections.
“If we don’t make a change, our vote will not count in 15 years,” he said
Smith previously told MLive his local party could set up a recall vote if Shirkey continues to act in a way the local Republicans think is out of party values. Shirkey cannot run for Senate reelection in 2022 because of term limits. Via – MLive