MIRS News declines to yank Lucido’s 2019 ‘Senator of the Year’ honor

Sens. Pete Lucido (left) and Mallory McMorrow (right)

Even after a Senate colleague of state Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) asked MIRS News to strip him of his 2019 “Senator of the Year” award, the Lansing news outlet has declined to do so.

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) made the ask Wednesday after a Michigan Advance reporter wrote a first-person story detailing Lucido’s sexist comments to her, which included telling a group of Catholic schoolboys that they “could have a lot of fun with you.”

Lucido has changed his story several times to various media outlets is now the subject of a Senate Business Office sexual harassment investigation.

I tried to interview Sen. Peter Lucido. He told me a group of schoolboys ‘could have a lot of fun’ with me.

“It’s time we start considering the totality of the job for people in power – not just how many bills you can pass,” McMorrow wrote on Twitter in calling for the subscription-only newsletter to rescind the award.

The Michigan Advance reached out to MIRS Editor Kyle Melinn via phone and email on Tuesday morning. The Advance asked via email: “Will MIRS be rescinding this award? If not, are you concerned this will be taken that your news organization condones sexual harassment and Lucido’s behavior?”

MIRS declined to respond to the Advance‘s questions, but Publisher John Reurink issued a lengthy, 299-word statement, noting that the awards were designed to “recognize individual lawmakers of both parties in a way that doesn’t endorse individual bills, proposals, conduct, political party or personality,” and are based on “volume of legislative work, impact and effectiveness.”

Reurink noted the number of Lucido’s public acts, his status as chair of the Senate Judiciary and Advice and Consent committees and role in criminal justice reform.

Senate GOP, Dem leaders ask for formal investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Lucido

“Sen. McMorrow also respectfully suggested that additional criteria be added when considering the issuance of this award. Those suggestions may play a part in awards going forward, but MIRS has decided not to apply newly created criteria for the awards retroactively,” Reurink said in his statement.

He also wrote that, “MIRS believes all individuals engaged in Michigan’s public policy process, be they reporters, the public, staffers or lawmakers should be treated with decency and respect.”

McMorrow told the Advance in a phone interview Thursday that “obviously, I’m disappointed” by MIRS’ decision but “wasn’t surprised.” When asked if she was surprised the outlet made that decision while there’s a Senate Business Office probe, she again said she “wasn’t surprised.”

“I believe firmly that for too long, we have held people up and turned a blind eye to the totality of the responsibility of people who have positions of power as long as they’re ‘effective,'” she said.

Sen. Lucido sexual harassment investigation results may not be public

McMorrow noted she was one of the many women who ran for office for the first time in 2018 after “being horrified by someone [now-President Trump] bragging about sexual assault” was elected in 2016.

“We need to demand more from elected officials,” she said. “… People who are in powerful positions need to treat people well.”

McMorrow added that while awards like the one bestowed upon Lucido may mostly be something for the “Lansing bubble,” they do “provide validity” for lawmakers.

Disclosure: Demas is a former MIRS deputy editor.

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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.