Shirkey, who got haircuts during shutdown, claimed Whitmer played by ‘privileged’ pandemic rules

    Mike Shirkey (left) and Gretchen Whitmer (right)
    Updated, 9:33 a.m. 6/23/20 with comments from Whitmer’s office

    In a June 11 fundraising email, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) claimed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer maintained a “glam squad” during the COVID-19 pandemic  — a popular right-wing internet rumor — yet he got professional haircuts and violated the stay-home order.

    Whitmer’s office confirmed that the governor did not receive any professional beauty services during the shutdown.

    On June 1, Whitmer lifted the final extension of her order, which has shuttered non-essential businesses since late March aimed at combating transmission of COVID-19. But her decision to keep hair and nail salons and spas closed beyond that — until June 15 — was met with some controversy. Whitmer also told constituents they could Google how to cut their hair, something for which she later apologized.  

    Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey June 11, 2020 fundraising email

    A frequent critic of the Democratic governor, Shirkey claimed in the email that the governor lives by one set of rules, but hands out different ones to constituents.

    “It does not appear as though the governor has gone without her own personal glam squad during the pandemic, but you and I are NOT allowed to support our community businesses or take care of ourselves,” Shirkey wrote. “As always, it’s one set of rules for our privileged Governor and another set of rules for the rest of us.”

    But just four days later, Shirkey told Coldwater radio station WTVB that he did receive professional haircuts during the statewide shutdown — when some hair stylists received tickets for violating the order, such as at the right-wing “Operation Haircut” protest at the Capitol in May. Shirkey and other GOP lawmakers attended it.

    “I got a couple of haircuts while we were in the shutdown because I just wasn’t going to stand by and look like a shaggy dog,” Shirkey said on air. “… I’m not gonna reveal my source. But it wasn’t at home and it was done professionally, and it was done appropriately and it needed to be done, and I did it.” 

    Shirkey says he got professional haircuts, defying Michigan’s stay-home order

    A spokesperson for Shirkey and Whitmer did not respond to a request for comment.

    Shirkey also wrote in the fundraising email that Michigan residents are ready to “safely and sensibly return to our daily lives” and that Whitmer’s decisions have “no rhyme or reason.”

    The state reports a total of 61,630 COVID-19 cases and 5,864 deaths at the time of publication. 

    “More than 5,800 Michiganders have lost their battle with this killer virus,” Whitmer spokesperson Tiffany Brown said. “It’s unfathomable that Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey would engage in irresponsible and downright dangerous behavior putting himself, his loved ones, colleagues and others at risk for the sake of playing partisan politics in defiance of orders put in place to save lives.”*

    C.J. Moore
    C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She studies environment journalism and film at Michigan State University.