Senate may not release probe of Lucido, who changes story

Craig Mauger Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — The public will at least find out whether Senate officials believe rules were broken by Sen. Peter Lucido, who is accused of making inappropriate comments to a reporter, said the spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

Shirkey spokeswoman Amber McCann wouldn't commit early Thursday to releasing the results of an internal investigation into Lucido, a Shelby Township Republican. But later in the day, McCann clarified that the Senate Business Office will determine whether Lucido violated Senate policy and "we will communicate that determination."

Lucido, who chairs the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, allegedly told a female reporter for the Michigan Advance, a nonprofit publication, that a group of high school boys who who were visiting the Capitol on Tuesday could "have a lot of fun with you." The reporter, Allison Donahue, revealed the comments in a Wednesday column.

Peter Lucido

The column spurred Lucido to apologize for the "misunderstanding." Later, Senate leaders asked the Senate Business Office to formally investigate the situation.

"Sexual harassment has no place in the Michigan Senate," the leaders' letter to the Senate Business Office said. "We take these allegations very seriously and trust that you will take appropriate action to resolve this matter."

Asked on Thursday whether the Senate would eventually release the findings of the investigation, McCann, spokeswoman for Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said the business office would follow its guidelines, which require the release of only financial records.

"The business office is only subjected to the release of financial documents," McCann told reporters after Senate session. "So they will maintain their policy."

On whether Senate leaders could voluntarily release the investigation's findings, McCann said, "There is not a precedent in the Senate for releasing personnel files."

Michigan is one of only two states that don't subject the governor's office and the Legislature to an open records law that requires the broad release of government documents. However, it's unclear whether the investigation into Lucido would fall under such a policy because it involves a personnel matter.

"We will not release documents related to the investigation," McCann said Thursday afternoon. "Senate policies include a duty to preserve confidentiality for those who report incidents and the Senate will not violate that confidentiality."

Shirkey would consider options and consequences based on the results of the Senate Business Office's investigation, McCann said.

According to the Michigan Advance's reporting, Donahue approached Lucido for an interview with a group of high school boys nearby. The students from De La Salle Collegiate High School were visiting the Capitol for a tour.

"You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you," Lucido told the reporter, according to her column. 

Lucido issued an apology on Wednesday but refused that morning to directly answer questions from The Detroit News about whether he made the comments he reportedly made.

Later in the day, Lucido told Detroit's WDIV TV station that the quotes attributed to him were not accurate and that he instead said:

"We're going out (on the Senate floor), we're going to have some fun. You're more than welcome to come."

On Wednesday night, Lucido also told the Washington Post that he did not make the remarks as Donahue described and that she had misinterpreted them. 

“I realize saying anything to somebody can be misinterpreted by putting a square peg in a round hole,” Lucido told The Post.

The denials late Wednesday afternoon and evening after issuing an apology hours beforehand are "indicative of Sen. Lucido's character," said Susan Demas, editor in chief of the Michigan Advance. 

When Donahue confronted Lucido about the comments in a conversation she recorded, "he didn't deny them," Demas said. "He made things worse by saying that it was fine because he made similarly inappropriate comments to a group of school girls.

"Sen. Lucido has the credibility problem, not our reporting," Demas said.