Wednesday, February 10, 2021


This is Michigan's Mike Shirkey:
Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey suggested the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a “hoax” perpetuated by opponents of former President Donald Trump.

The state Senate’s top Republican made the bizarre and unfounded claim in a video-recorded meeting at a diner last week with leaders of the Hillsdale County Republican Party....

“That wasn’t Trump’s people. That’s been a hoax from day one. That was all prearranged,” Shirkey, a Clarklake Republican, said of the riot. “It was arranged by somebody who was funding it. ... It was all staged.”

... Shirkey insinuated that even Sen. Mitch McConnell “was part of” a staged insurrection.

“I think they wanted to have a mess,” Shirkey said. “They would have had to recruit this other group of people.”
But then he walked his remarks back without exactly disavowing them.
Following our story, Shirkey issued an apology for his comments in the video.

“I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve. I own that,” Shirkey said. “I have many flaws. Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them. I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.”
You may recall that Shirkey and the Republican speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, Lee Chatfield, went to the White House and met with President Trump in November, just before the state was set to certify Joe Biden's 154,188-vote victory. Not only did Shirkey and Chatfield agree to the meeting, but Chatfield was later photographed at Trump's D.C. hotel.
Photographs of House Speaker Lee Chatfield drinking and sitting, unmasked, with others at the Trump International Hotel — and the lawmakers not elaborating on what, if anything, the president asked about Michigan election results — ... drew the ire of people already dubious that the president did not try to persuade the lawmakers in his ongoing efforts to undermine the will of voters.
Yet before he left for Washington, as The New York Times reported, Shirkey assured us that the meeting with Trump wouldn't change the outcome.
Mr. Trump may have a tough sell during the meeting....

Mr. Shirkey has committed to heading a legislative probe into “numerous allegations” of election irregularities. But he has balked at overturning the results, and publicly questioned the president for not accepting an official accounting that shows Mr. Biden with a lead of nearly 150,000 votes.

Attempts to convince state lawmakers to change the election outcome in favor of Mr. Trump is “not going to happen,” he told the nonprofit publication Bridge Michigan on Tuesday....

“We are going to follow the law and follow the process,” said Mr. Shirkey.... “I do believe there’s reason to go slow and deliberate.”
The Times story also told us this:
As a Republican leader in his state, Mr. Shirkey has tried to maintain political equilibrium, opposing efforts by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, to close businesses and schools to fight the pandemic — while resisting efforts to impeach her.
Both before and after the meeting with Trump, Shirkey rebuffed reporters' questions by singing hymns.

But Shirkey ultimately did nothing to block the certification of Biden's win in the state.

A Times story published Monday says that Shirkey was once wary of the influence of armed militias on Michigan politics.
Dozens of heavily armed militiamen crowded into the Michigan Statehouse last April to protest a stay-at-home order by the Democratic governor to slow the pandemic. Chanting and stomping their feet, they halted legislative business, tried to force their way onto the floor and brandished rifles from the gallery over lawmakers below.

Initially, Republican leaders had some misgivings about their new allies. “The optics weren’t good. Next time tell them not to bring guns,” complained Mike Shirkey, the State Senate majority leader, according to one of the protest organizers....

Mr. Shirkey issued a statement on April 30 criticizing “intimidation and the threat of physical harm” and calling the armed protesters “a bunch of jackasses.”
Then his perspective changed.
But Michigan’s highest-ranking Republican came around after the planners threatened to return with weapons and “militia guys signing autographs and passing out blow-up AR-15s to the kiddies on the Capitol lawn.”

“To his credit,” Jason Howland, the organizer, wrote in a social media post, Mr. Shirkey agreed to help the cause and “spoke at our next event.”

... Two weeks after the Statehouse protest, Mr. Shirkey, the Republican leader, appeared at a rally by the same organizers, onstage with a militia member who would later be accused of conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“Stand up and test that assertion of authority by the government,” Mr. Shirkey told the militiamen. “We need you now more than ever.”
But don't worry -- he urged a degree of restraint.
He ... met privately in his office ... with a handful of militia leaders — to establish a “code of conduct,” he explained in an interview. “Do you tell your people to make sure that there’s not a live round in a chamber?” he said, recounting the conversation. “That’d be a good start.”
So to sum up: Shirkey thinks the January 6 Capitol riot was fraudulent, and believes that a probe of the November election is warranted, but he didn't intervene to block certification of the results. He attacks the state's Democratic governor -- and in the same video in which he said the Capitol riot was a hoax, he "[took] aim several times at the governor in the video, sexualizing her in comments about budget negotiations and saying he contemplated challenging her to a fistfight outside the state Capitol," according to the Detroit Free Press -- but he doesn't support impeaching her. He now praises the influence of armed militias on Michigan politics, but he thinks it might be better if, when they show up at the Capitol with semi-automatic weapons, they take care not have "a live round in the chamber."

This is what it means to be a moderate, mainstream, centrist Republican now. This is what it means to not be one of the real crazies.

Oh, and that meeting with the Hillsdale County Republicans in which Shirkey said the riot was fake? That was held to discuss a possible censure of Shirkey by the county GOP. A vote was then taken. Shirkey lost.
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey was censured by members of his own district’s party for an array of “actions and inactions” by the top Republican in state government.

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 Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus-related measures that shut down businesses and was not doing enough to support conservative values like Second Amendment rights....

“Shrikey’s been a fair-weather RINO and we’re holding him accountable,” Hillsdale County Republican Party Chair Daren Wiseley said.
Yup, he's not far enough right to be a real Republican.

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