Take 3: Shirkey’s militia confab story evolves again

By: - January 28, 2021 9:09 am

Militia-organized protest at the Capitol, May 14, 2020 | Susan J. Demas

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) is telling another version of the story of his meeting with state militia leaders last year. The latest evolution occurred during a Monday interview with Radio Free Hillsdale, the radio station of Hillsdale College. 

Shirkey made the new comments responding to the host asking about attacks leveled by the Democratic Governors Association over his militia meeting this “last summer.” It was sent on Jan. 21, four days before Shirkey’s radio interview.

“Mike Shirkey’s alarming behavior has made it clear he is unfit to be a leader and serve in public office,” said DGA spokesperson Christina Amestoy. “Lawmakers should not be consulting and advising militia groups like the ones who have sought to kidnap the governor and overthrow the government. Nor should they be pushing lies about our elections or refusing to be transparent about their coronavirus diagnosis. Not only are Shirkey’s actions completely abhorrent, they also put our democracy, and the health of others, at risk.”

Here’s how he responded to the DGA emails in the interview:

“The one [DGA] seem to promote and that they seem to enjoy and thump their chest about it — last summer — last summer — when we had militias exercising their Second Amendment rights and protesting at various locations, including the [Michigan] Capitol. I met with a few of the leaders of the militia in my office. There was Senate police and state police present, as well, to talk to them about doing that safely. And talked to them about, asked them, ‘Do you have a code of conduct?’ Asked them if they want people to hear what they have to say or just see their guns? And those kinds of questions. Of course that was painted as I was assisting them and maybe even being complicit in their planning.”

New: Michigan GOP Senate leader advised militias on messaging, says they’ve gotten ‘a bad rap’

Of course, Shirkey is the one who previously said in an interview with JTV that he and militia leaders “talked about their messaging, their purpose, what they are trying to accomplish and how they could improve their message.” He also said militias had gotten “a bad rap.”

In that same interview, he claimed the Michigan State Police helped him arrange the meeting. Something MSP has denied. 

On Jan. 19, almost two weeks after the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, he changed the story in another interview with JTV. 

In that interview Shirkey said of the meeting, as previously reported by the Advance:

“The purpose was very narrow. Because I defend their right to assemble; defend their right to protest. But I was asking them about, do they have codes of conduct, so they can hold themselves accountable and so the public can hold them accountable?” Shirkey said. “That was the entire meeting was about, do you have a code of conduct? Would it be helpful? I am pleased to report that a couple of groups went out and created their own codes of conduct.I recommended that they actually carry their cards in their pockets so if a media person were to come up to them, they’d show it to them.”

DHHS lifts more restrictions, but Republicans threaten to halt gov’s appointments without full reopening

Meanwhile, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is still wondering if Shirkey met with militia leaders tied to the 14 accused members who plotted to kidnap her, blow up a bridge, put her on trial for treason and execute her. She told the Advance this week that she and Shirkey have not spoken about the matter.

Shirkey would rather accuse the DGA of “typical character assassination and cancel culture,” then address questions about his militia leader meeting and the ever evolving explanation for it. 

And why would DGA do that, in Shirkey’s mind? Because they see him as a possible “opponent” to Whitmer in the 2022 election. He denied such intentions Wednesday in his Hillsdale radio interview. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Todd A. Heywood
Todd A. Heywood

Todd Heywood is an award-winning journalist with over 30 years of experience. He's worked in print, online, radio and television. His reporting has been cited by the U.S. House of Representatives as well as in the United Nations reports on HIV. He's an avid vintage Star Wars collector and lives in Lansing with his three dogs.