Rep. Johnson gets committee posts, so do Republicans who backed overturning the 2020 election

By: - January 21, 2021 4:16 pm

The crowd at a Trump Rally outside the Michigan State Capitol Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020 | Anna Liz Nichols

After being kicked off her committee assignments in early December at the end of the legislative term, state Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson (D-Detroit) was assigned to a number of committees for the 101st Legislature — but not the Oversight Committee. 

Johnson, who previously served as the Democratic vice chair of that panel was removed from all her committees after posting a Facebook Live video slamming Trump supporters who were threatening her. A Michigan Advance investigation found an edited version had circulated around far-right social media sites. 

The video came after the infamous December House Oversight Committee meeting where former President Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani testified on a slew of debunked election fraud claims. Johnson said she received death threats from Trump supporters after this hearing. 

House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) assigned Johnson to the Appropriations Committee and subcommittees for Agriculture and Rural Development, Corrections and Judiciary.

“The selection of committees is one of the most important tasks of the legislature. It sets the tone and helps mold the agenda for the session,” said Wentworth in a statement announcing all committee posts. “The process is a careful consideration of the experience and knowledge of elected officials, and the needs of the legislature and the people of the state. This committee structure and membership represent a powerful opportunity for us to address critical issues and get important things done while maintaining a focus on accountability and transparency throughout our processes.”

Johnson also called on a number of Republican state lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol or the partner rally that happened that day at the state Capitol to be removed from their committees. 

After the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) asked Wentworth to punish 18 Republicans who either signed on to a letter to former Vice President Mike Pence asking him to decertify the election or signed on to failed lawsuits to overturn the election. 

The 18 Republicans include state Reps. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), Ken Borton (R-Gaylord), Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.), Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), Matt Maddock (R-Millford), Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville), John Reilly (R-Oakland), Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp.), Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Twp.), Joe Bellino (R-Monroe), Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), Gregory Markkanen (R-Hancock), Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann), Brad Paquette (R-Niles) and Rodney Wakeman (R-Saginaw Twp.).

All 18 were assigned to committees. Lasinski did not return a request for comment.

Maddock spoke at a rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5, the day the Capitol building was stormed. Last week, Wentworth said Maddock would be seated and wouldn’t face any consequences, rebuffing calls from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) and others.

New state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) also was at the Jan. 6 rally in Lansing and also received committee assignments. 

Eisen, who also stoked election fraud theories and warned of a potentially violent event Dec. 14, the day Michigan’s electors voted for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, lost committee assignments last term. But like his fellow lawmakers, he has posts in the new session.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.