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GOP lawmaker removed from committees for refusing to condemn election violence

State Representative Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair).

A Republican state lawmaker has been disciplined by his party’s leadership. That’s after state Representative Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Township) refused in a radio interview to denounce the possibility of violence during Monday’s Michigan Electoral College vote for President-elect Joe Biden.

A group did show up at the Capitol to try and replace the Democratic electors with a slate of Republicans, but was stopped at the door without incident. It’s not clear if Eisen was talking about this or some other effort. But he said in a phone interview with WPHM in Port Huron that violence was a possibility and he planned to show up in a supporting role.

“I was warned there was going to be violence, there was going to be protests, and they asked me if I could assist today and said, and you know what” I said, how can I not?” he said to host Paul Miller.

Eisen later said in a statement release by his office that he would not go to the Capitol:

“I regret the confusion over my comments this morning, and I want to assure everyone that those of us who are supporting an alternative slate of electors intend to do so peacefully and legally. I wanted to attend today’s event to help prevent violence, not promote it. I no longer plan to go to the Capitol with that group today.”

The punishment will have little practical effect since the Legislature’s 2020 session ends this week. There’s no word whether the sanction will continue next year. 
House Speaker Lee Chatfield said the comments were out of bounds:

“We as elected officials must be clear that violence has no place in our democratic process. We must be held to a higher standard. Because of that, Rep. Eisen has been removed from his committee assignments for the rest of the term.”

Last week. Chatfield and Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) stripped Democratic state Representative Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) from her committee assignments for this term and next. That was following a social media post that appeared to endorse violence.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.