Rescue Michigan Coalition Facebook livestream on March 6, 2022
After state House GOP nominee Robert Regan said rape victims should “lie back and enjoy it” Sunday, GOP leaders are denouncing his comments and distancing themselves from the far-right hopeful, but stopped short of calling him to withdraw.
During a virtual panel hosted by the Rescue Michigan Coalition, a far-right group pushing election fraud conspiracies and protesting COVID-19 mandates, Regan was asked about how he won the special primary election for the 74th state House District seat representing Kent County last week.
“I have three daughters, and I tell my daughters, ‘Well if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it,’” Regan said. “That’s not how we roll; that’s not how I won this election. We go right at it.”
Regan did not respond to a request to comment.
The comment wasn’t immediately contested by the rest of the panel, but Amber Harris, a Republican activist from Oakland County, told him his comment was “shameful.”
“Advice to give to your daughter: Don’t do that. Fight all the time,” Harris said.
Shane Trejo, another panelist and chair of Michigan’s 11th District Republican Committee, jumped to Regan’s defense saying the comment was being “misrepresented.”
“May have been a politically incorrect comparison to make, but I think that’s the opposite of the comparison that Robert was trying to make I think in the context of what he was trying to say,” Trejo said.
But some top Republican leaders in the state weren’t as quick to defend Regan.
Michigan Republican Party Chair Ron Weiser said Regan has a history of “foolish, egregious and offensive comments,” but congratulated the West Michigan candidate for beating out a number of Republicans in the special election just days earlier.
“We are better than this as a party and I absolutely expect better than this of our candidates,” Weiser said in a statement Tuesday.
Weiser has had to previously walk back his own controversial comments after saying that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel were “witches” to be burned at the stake.
On social media, Regan has posted a number of conspiracy theories, many of which are directly tied to QAnon, calling the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax and repeatedly saying that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, who lost to President Joe Biden by 154,000 votes in Michigan.
Regan also posted anti-semitic conspiracies on Facebook, like saying that Jewish people dominated world banking, assisinated Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy and were responsible for 9/11. He called feminism “a Jewish program to degrade and subjugate white men.”
On Rumble, a right-wing video platform, shared a video called, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Genocide,” which falsely claims that the COVID-19 vaccines are causing a genocide and contained photos of Biden, Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Boris Johnson and Dr. Anthony Fauci hanging from nooses. Regan’s campaign logo and website address appear at the beginning of the video.
Michigan Freedom Fund Executive Director Tori Sachs said Regan’s comments “completely disqualify him from holding public office.”
“Regan’s disgusting and dehumanizing comments on the horror of sexual assault along with his support of murderous dictator Vladimir Putin are despicable,” said Sachs in a statement Tuesday. “I’m the mom of four young girls. Every day I teach them to stand up for themselves, to know what they’re worth, and to fight back against creeps like Regan. RJ Regan doesn’t belong anywhere near the state Capitol and that is why we endorsed and supported his opponent.”
Kent County Chair Rob VerHeulen, a former House member, said he was “appalled” by the comments and believes Regan should issue an apology.
Regan is aiming to replace state Sen. Mark Huizenga (R-Walker), who won a special election to fill the vacant 28th Senate District seat in November. Huizenga said he denounced Regan’s comments.
“As a Christian, a public servant and a father of two daughters, I find Robert Regan’s comments about sexual assault to be revolting and immoral, and I strongly denounce them,” Huizenga said in a statement.
Huizenga also was critical of Regan’s previous comments about Russia’s attack on Ukraine, calling Ukraine “one of the most corrupt countries in the world for money laundering.”
“His statements about Russia’s unprovoked attack of a sovereign country are contrary to our own nation’s values, and his anti-Semitic posts claiming Jewish people control the banks and were behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks are shameful and disgusting,” Huizenga said.
Regan will face Democrat Carol Glanville in the general election on May 3. She also blasted Regan’s comments on rape
“As a woman, human, and public servant, I am stunned that a person who wishes to hold public office would hold such beliefs. I did not think I would need to clearly state on the campaign trail that rape is never inevitable, acceptable, or warranted and is the worst type of personal violation anyone could ever experience. In empathy and compassion, I stand with survivors everywhere while defending human rights,” Glanville said.
“Unlike my opponent, I am driven by the values of integrity, public service, facts, and commitment to others. I have a vision for the future of West Michigan that is grounded in the reality of our times and support for our entire community.”
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