Dem leaders plan to investigate state ties to attack on U.S. Capitol

By: - June 11, 2021 1:18 pm

Michigan Militia at the Second Amendment March at the Capitol, Sept. 17, 2020 | Laina G. Stebbins

House and Senate Democratic leaders are calling for an investigation into Michiganders’ involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol. 

On Thursday, House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) called on other members in the Legislature to create a bipartisan committee to investigate the full extent of Michigan contributions to the pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Lasinski says they will be introducing a resolution to formally create the committee next week.

“When we are sworn into office, we swear an oath to uphold the constitution of our state and nation — and to uphold our form of democratic government. Actions of violence against our institutions, both here and in D.C., cannot be left unexamined,” Lasinki said in a statement. “It would be cowardly to turn away and ignore the role that Michigan played in the lead-up to the insurrection at our nation’s Capitol.”

Neither spokespeople for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) nor House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) responded to a comment on the committee or whether they will support the resolution.

Lasinski and Ananich noted a number of Michigan ties on the day of the insurrection and months leading up to the insurrection, including the armed protest at the Capitol in April 2020 and the plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that was uncovered in October 2020.

In May, a photo circulated of Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) with one of the militia members who plotted to kidnap and kill Whitmer and it was reported that he invited multiple militia groups to his office days after the groups stormed the state Capitol in April 2020.

“On January 6, 2021, we all watched as unspeakable acts of insurrection and violence were committed in the sacred halls of our nation’s Capitol, just months after a similar mob stormed Michigan’s very own state Capitol,” Ananich said. “We can choose to pretend as if these events never happened, and in doing so jeopardize the security of our democracy for the next generations, or we can choose to get to the bottom of what happened on those ugly days. It’s that simple, and it would be a shame if we couldn’t put politics aside in order to stop possible repeat acts of insurrection.”

The Democratic leaders also noted that then-House Speaker Lee Chatfield, Shirkey, Wentworth, Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) and other Republican legislators traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with then-President Donald Trump in November. This meeting happened before the 2020 presidential election results were certified.

In December 2020, while Michigan’s 16 presidential electors gathered at the state Capitol to cast their ballots formalizing the state’s vote for President Biden, a group of Republicans legislators, including Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford), Rep. Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), Rep. John Reilly (R-Oakland Twp.), Rep. Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan) and Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), and a number of Trump electors attempted to enter the building to submit a fake GOP elector slate.

On the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection, Maddock and his wife, Michigan Republican Party co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, organized busses for people from Michigan to attend the protests in Washington, D.C. that resulted in the storming of the U.S. Capitol later that day. 

“Irresponsible actions by elected officials to stop the peaceful transfer of power cannot be wished away,” Lasinksi said. 

Last month, the U.S. House voted to form an independent, bipartisan 10-member commission to investigate the insurrection. The Michigan delegation was divided 9-5, with U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) and Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) voting yes with Democrats.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes applauded the Democratic state leaders for “holding insurrection sympathizers accountable.”

“The violence that took place that day should spur all of us to want to uncover how the day devolved, so that we may never experience it again. We urge Republican lawmakers to join their Democratic colleagues in creating this bipartisan committee without delay,” Barnes said. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers 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.