Republican Congressman Dave Trott of Birmingham suggested on Twitter on Wednesday that President Donald Trump should spend more time on the golf course and less time in front of microphones.
Trott’s comment came amid a torrent of criticism following remarks Trump made at a Tuesday news conference that blamed “both sides” of protesters for violence at a race-fueled rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.
“I think America needs more unity and less divisiveness...meaning @realDonaldTrump should focus more on golf & have less press conferences,” Trott tweeted.
Democrat Haley Stevens, who is campaigning to challenge Trott next year, pounced on the tweet, accusing Trott of making light of the situation in Charlottesville.
“Instead of condemning the president for his lack of moral leadership, Rep. Trott jokes that ‘more golf’ is the solution to Trump's racist comments,” Stevens said in a statement.
“This is not just insensitive, but shows a complete lack of leadership and disregard for standing up for basic moral principles. Condemnation of Trump's comments and the act of terrorism that killed Heather Heyer should not be difficult.”
Stu Sandler, a spokesman for Trott’s campaign, said Trott was “extremely disappointed and bothered” by the tone of Trump’s news conference.
“His tweet was a suggestion for the president to not make the situation worse with additional comments,” Sandler said.
State reps push black history education
After the white nationalist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, two Democratic state representatives in Michigan are urging their GOP colleagues to require more black history in schools.
Reps. Jeremy Moss of Southfield and Sherry Gay-Dagnogo of Detroit are asking fellow lawmakers in a Republican-controlled Legislature to pass HB 4293, which would require black history be taught in Michigan schools.
Moss, who is Jewish, co-sponsored similar legislation with Gay-Dagnogo last session that required Holocaust education and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2016.
The history requirement proposal has stalled in committee. Both lawmakers said the neo-Nazi march and attack on counter-protesters that left one dead and 19 injured add urgency to the issue.
Legislators resist going smoke-free
The Michigan Capitol Commission on Tuesday tabled talk of making the full Capitol Square smoke-free, opting instead to remove ashtrays from outside entrances and remind people who work there to follow existing regulations against smoking in or around the building.
So who’s ignoring those existing rules? The folks who write new ones for a living, said Commissioner John Truscott.
“It seems legislators and staff tend to be the biggest problem for us as far as the violators of what is currently in state law,” Truscott told colleagues.
Former Gov. John Engler instituted a ban on smoking in public areas of the Capitol during a restoration project completed in 1992, but that ban did not address the surrounding grounds, Commissioner Kerry Chartkoff said during a meeting last month, according to minutes. The state enacted a broader workplace smoking ban in 2010.
Chartkoff noted some legislators and staffers have continued to smoke in private areas of the building or on Capitol balconies, an act she said was prohibited within 20 feet of the building under current law.
A commission workgroup tasked with studying a Capitol grounds smoking ban had a “robust discussion” with Michigan State Police and concluded such a rule would be too difficult to enforce, Truscott said.
“Especially if there’s a rally or something like that, we don’t want them diverted to worrying about (a smoking ban) enforcement while they’re trying to keep the building and the public safe,” he said.
Veterans group honors Peters’ work
The Vietnam Veterans of America last week recognized U.S. Sen. Gary Peters as a Legislator of the Year for his push to pass legislation to make benefits available to veterans who were discharged in error due to behavior stemming from trauma during their service.
Peters, who spoke at the VVA’s annual convention, introduced the Fairness for Veterans Act, enacted as part of a defense spending bill.
Veterans can be denied Veterans Administration health care and other benefits if they received dishonorable or less-than-honorable discharges.
Peters’ measure changed policy so that when a veteran’s PTSD or traumatic brain injury is related to combat or military sexual trauma, the military review board considering his or her case should grant a “rebuttable presumption” in favor of the veteran that their PTSD or traumatic brain injury contributed to their discharge.
Peters, a former lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserves, said that he first learned of the issue related to “bad paper” discharges from the VVA working with veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Melissa Nann Burke, Michael Gerstein and Jonathan Oosting contributed