Updated, 4:30 p.m. 5:05 p.m., 1/7/21
Heeding calls from outgoing President Donald Trump to protest the election results at the U.S. Capitol, thousands of armed right-wing extremists stormed the building in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, broke windows, flew Confederate and Trump flags, ransacked congressional offices and broke into House and Senate chambers — leading to armed standoffs, mass evacuations, tear gas, numerous arrests and four deaths.
Busloads of Michigan residents arrived in Washington this week, and state Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford) and his wife, Meshawn Maddock, also were on hand.
Both are co-founders of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which has organized many anti-Gov. Gretchen Whitmer events at the state Capitol to protest her COVID-19 orders. Meshawn Maddock is chair of the 11th Congressional District GOP, a national advisory board member of the “Women for Trump” organization and is poised to become state co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party next month alongside former Chair Ron Weiser.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) has since called on House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) to ask for Maddock’s resignation. House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Twp.) has also requested that Wentworth discipline and possibly decline to seat Maddock and 17 other Republicans in Michigan’s 101st Legislature.*
“Representative Maddock is culpable in yesterday’s assault on our democracy and he must resign immediately,” DLCC President Jessica Post said Thursday. “If he refuses, Speaker Wentworth must strip him of his committee assignments.
“Michigan Republicans have done irreparable damage to the fabric of our democracy by repeatedly casting doubt about our free and fair election. If they care about healing this nation, they must hold their members accountable for sowing division and fanning the flames of an angry mob,” Post said.
On Monday, Meshawn Maddock was organizing busloads of West Michigan Republicans to travel to D.C. The Maddocks gave a speech to the mob participants on Tuesday encouraging them to fight back against the election certification and she posted on social media about her husband not being a “Summer Soldier.”
“No one in the world I’d rather stand beside to demand #FairElections than Matt Maddock,” Meshawn Maddock wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. “He’s never been a Summer Soldier or a Sunshine Patriot. #StopTheSteal #MarchForTrump”
The most incredible crowd and sea of people I’ve ever walked with ♥️ https://t.co/y2ylv9VctG
— meshawn maddock (@meshawnmaria) January 6, 2021
She appeared to have marched with the crowd to the Capitol on Wednesday morning before rioters stormed the building. But Maddock claims that she was in a hotel when the violence started.
Nicholas Fuentes, a young right-wing activist who has organized pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” events at the Michigan Capitol in recent months, was also present among rioters who broke into the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, per MLive.
Of the 69 reported arrests made in D.C. Wednesday evening, at least six were Michigan residents, per the Detroit Free Press. Their identities have not yet been made public.
Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), said there is a chance of COVID-19 spread from the participants coming back to Michigan. The majority of the participants were unmasked and in close quarters with one another as they climbed and ransacked the Capitol building.
Rep. Maddock has been one of the more vocal supporters of such debunked conspiracy theories in the state Legislature. Along with state Reps. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), Ken Borton (R-Gaylord), Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.), Beth Griffin (R-Mattawan), Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville), John Reilly (R-Oakland), Daire Rendon (R-Lake City), Mary Whiteford (R-Casco Twp.) and Doug Wozniak (R-Shelby Twp.), Maddock signed onto a letter Wednesday asking that Vice President Mike Pence decertify the now-certified election results and delay electoral vote counting.
That letter cited debunked conspiracy theories about election fraud and continued to cast doubt on the integrity of the process. Many have pointed to this rhetoric as the encouragement for pro-Trump extremists to lead an insurrection at the nation’s Capitol.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, Carra falsely suggested that the event was actually “staged” by ANTIFA and socialists, not Trump supporters. There is no evidence whatsoever to back this claim. Many Trump supporters left a long online trail in preparation for violence on Wednesday.
Griffin said in a Facebook post that she supports those involved in Wednesday’s events.
“… To be clear, I support those who went to Washington today to peacefully protest and voice their concerns regarding the integrity of our elections,” Griffin wrote.
In a letter to Wentworth late Thursday afternoon, Lasinski urged the new House Speaker to take action and discipline the 11 House members who wrote Wednesday’s letter — as well as state Reps. Joe Bellino (R-Monroe), Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton), Bronna Kahle (R-Adrian), Gregory Markkanen (R-Hancock), Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann), Brad Paquette (R-Niles) and Rodney Wakeman (R-Saginaw Twp.), who have all signed onto failed federal pro-Trump lawsuits to overturn the election.
“Sadly, several Michigan lawmakers bear responsibility for stoking and fomenting the disgraceful actions we have witnessed,” Lasinski wrote. “…Should these Members fail to disavow their shameful conduct, I am calling on you to take immediate, appropriate action to discipline these Members under your authority as Speaker or pursuant to the House’s plenary authority to discipline its Members.”
Lasinski argued that it would send a “disturbing message” if lawmakers who advocated for “the subversion of our democracy” are allowed to make decisions on behalf of Michiganders.*
Several other Democratic lawmakers also have called for Maddock to see consequences back home in the state House. State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) called Maddock’s actions “seditious, traitorous behavior” and said he should be censured immediately. State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) said on a media call that Maddock should be removed from office entirely.
Today in DC, Rep. Matt Maddock instigated the people who overtook the US Capitol. This is seditious, traitorous behavior and he needs to be censured immediately. pic.twitter.com/2bdIRw4NW1
— Laurie Pohutsky (@lpohutsky19) January 7, 2021
“I’m angry, sad, and scared for all of us, but I’m not surprised — we saw the preview of this in Lansing when right-wing extremists stormed our Capitol back in April,” Camilleri said in a statement to the Advance Thursday.
“I’m grieving for our nation right now, and, in the months and years to come, we have a lot of work to do to rebuild. In the meantime, those who perpetrated today’s violence need to be held accountable, and the state and federal representatives who supported and encouraged it — most notably our soon-to-be former president — do too.
“We are exploring our options, but Michiganders deserve better from their leaders, and I think censure or expulsion of members who encouraged this violent behavior is appropriate if they do not resign,” Camilleri said.
Wentworth’s office did not respond to an inquiry about whether GOP leadership plans to seek punitive action against Maddock and other caucus members who propped up the pro-coup rhetoric.
As for the 11 state senators who put their name on a letter Wednesday that also propped up election conspiracy theories and asked for an election certification delay, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) spokesperson Amber McCann did not respond to an inquiry about whether they would face consequences, as well.
Those members include state Sens. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), Tom Barrett (R-Potterville), Kim LaSata (R-Bainbridge Twp.), Roger Victory (R-Georgetown Twp.), Dale Zorn (R-Ida), Lana Theis (R-Brighton), Kevin Daley (R-Lum), Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway), Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington), Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes) and Jim Runestad (R-White Lake).