State Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Shelby Twp.) lost his position chairing the Senate Advice and Consent Committee after a Senate Business Office investigation released Thursday determined accusations of sexual harassment were deemed “credible” and the incidents in question “more likely than not” occurred.
Investigators wrote in their report: “Lucido’s conduct ‘demonstrates an unfortunate pattern of behavior’ that requires ‘little to no interpretation to be understood as inappropriate workplace behavior,”’ according to a memo from the Senate Business Office.
In January, Lucido made sexist comments at Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue, which kicked off the probe. Lucido initially gave a brief apology on Twitter shortly after that incident. Donahue’s story inspired other women to come forward with their accounts of harassment by Lucido, including state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and Melissa Osborn of the Michigan Credit Union League.
But Lucido now maintains in a statement issued Friday morning that he hasn’t “sexually harassed anyone.”
The investigation, jointly called for by both state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), looked into Lucido’s misconduct and included 35 interviews with 25 individuals.
Donahue was the first to come forward with her story of sexist comments from the Shelby Township Republican. In her first-person story, she talked about being humiliated by Lucido while trying to do her job. He told a group of visiting schoolboys that they could “have a lot of fun with her.”
“… He assured me it was nothing personal and this is just how he talks to young women,” Donahue wrote. “Maybe he truly means that he never intended to cause harm with his comments, but that doesn’t excuse how we normalize this behavior from men in power.”
Lucido issued a brief statement the day after the incident with Donahue apologizing for the “misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue.” He also told the Detroit Free Press in an interview that he was not misquoted by Donahue’s story.
Lucido has since changed his story several times to various media outlets.
At the conclusion of the investigation, Lucido issued a statement falsely stating its conclusions: “Throughout this process, I have maintained that I did not sexually harass anyone. Given that I have not sexually harassed anyone nor were there any citations of a violation of Senate rules determined by the investigation, I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the people I represent.”
Donahue has made this statement in response to Lucido’s false claims:
“I’m disappointed that Sen. Lucido is choosing to gaslight and lie despite the results from the investigation. The Senate Business Office clearly said that after dozens of interviews and multiple articles of evidence, the results showed that the allegations made by Sen. Mallory McMorrow, Melissa Osborn and myself were credible. Again, I appreciate the work that the Senate Business Office did in the investigation and the decision made by Sen. Shirkey. But, now it’s time for everyone else to put in the work to change the culture. This is the time where we should be choosing to believe women, to right our wrongdoings and make sure that everyone has a comfortable and safe work environment.”
McMorrow took to Twitter on Thursday, where she has supported other women who have come forward about Lucido’s harassment, saying there is much work to be done.
“Apparently, 35 interviews of 25 people and an investigation that deemed three women’s accounts credible with investigators concluding that “more likely than not” that each incident occurred as reported by the accusers” isn’t enough,” McMorrow tweeted.
To be clear, I'm very appreciative of the Senate Business Office, the Majority Leader's office, and the Minority Leader's office for taking this seriously and conducting a thorough, fair investigation. Overall, I work with decent, good people. But there is still work to do.
— Mallory McMorrow (@MalloryMcMorrow) March 6, 2020
Many women and Democrats have taken to social media to support women who have come forward with incidents with Lucido. Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes sent Advance a statement condemning Lucido’s choice to take on a “Trumpian” approach to sexual misconduct.
“Woman after woman was subjected to Peter Lucido’s disgusting sexual harassment and his refusal to take responsibility for his actions is a disgrace to the Republican Party and slap in the face to the women he represents,” Barnes said. “While Lucido may think he can echo Donald Trump’s denials and silence the voices of the women who bravely spoke up, Michigan voters know his actions should have no place in our society.”
Shirkey removed Lucido from chair of the Senate Advice and Consent Committee at the conclusion of the investigation on Thursday. Lucido also is required to participate in additional training.
In response to an Advance inquiry into whether Lucido will be removed as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spokesperson Amber McCann said Shirkey “believes removal from Advice and Consent is the appropriate action in response to the findings of the investigation” and the training has not yet been specified.”
The Advice and Consent Committee has been at the center of controversy after the committee voted against two of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointees to the Natural Resources Commission. Whitmer’s office called Senate Republican’s rejection of biology professor Anna Mitterling a “sexist” move to force her into removing another appointee former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell.
Both appointees were rejected on the Senate floor. Both were defended at length by State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing) who asked his Republican peers to do the right thing, see the appointees as qualified people and go against what their party asked of them. Hertel said after Mitterling was rejected that it was a sexist move by Republicans and Lucido has no place chairing the committee, given the investigation.
In an interview with the Advance after the Lucido investigation results were announced, Hertel praised the probe for being a positive step in the right direction and producing real results that didn’t “sweep things under the rug.” But Hertel said Lucido’s statement Friday was “severely problematic” and something for the GOP leadership to examine.
“I think his lack of apology and claims of vindication should be taken into consideration by the Majority. I think that is a bad sign for all of this moving forward,” Hertel said. “I think those are severely problematic. The first step to healing a situation is realizing you did something wrong. I don’t know why it’s so hard to say, ‘I’m sorry and I’ll do better.’”