LANSING, Mich. – Calls for discipline have grown over the weekend after state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey was caught in two controversial hot mic conversations.
In the first, Shirkey was caught saying he believed the deadly Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead was a hoax that wasn’t carried out by Donald Trump supporters. The state senator also used lewd language when talking about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Shirkey issued a statement five days after the initial video came to light. He said he regretted the words he chose and apologized for his “insensitive comments.”
The next day on the Michigan Senate floor, Shirkey told Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist that he didn’t regret his words.
“I frankly don’t take back any of the points I was trying to make,” Shirkey was captured saying on the chamber’s video feed.
In an opinion piece in the Detroit Metro Times, Gilchrist called on Republican lawmakers to “grow up” Saturday.
“It is time for Republican leaders in the Legislature to publicly denounce these types of conspiracies, attacks against the governor, and divisive, violent rhetoric,” Gilchrist wrote.
Condemnation also came from other Michigan lawmakers.
“I can’t reconcile that and I don’t want to anymore,” said state Sen. Dayna Polehanki from Livonia. “I won’t abide by it and I reject it. And it’s unfortunate that he’s still being supported by his party.”
Polehanki’s images of militia members who stormed the Michigan Capitol were used to illustrate the danger of false election rhetoric during the Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
The pressure to discipline Shirkey even extended to the U.S. Senate. Homeland Security Chair Sen. Gary Peters, whose focus is on domestic terrorism, weighed in on the matter.
“It’s outrageous that you have, yet again, another Republican leader engaging in conspiracy theories and lies,” Peters said. “We know that the whole ‘steal the election’ was a big lie. Apparently, the leader of the state Senate in Michigan now wants to tell an even bigger lie.”
Michigan Republican Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth released a statement of his own, distancing himself from Shirkey. His statement said, in part, that “Shirkey’s comments are his own and don’t reflect my feelings or beliefs.”
Wentworth did not directly criticize Shirkey’s conspiracy theory, but rather that it was a distracting situation for the House.