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State Senate leader says he defied pandemic orders for 'a couple haircuts'

The Detroit News

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said in a broadcast interview that he opted for a professional cut rather than sport a shaggy hairstyle, defying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Talking last week with WTVB, a radio station in Coldwater, the Clarklake Republican told host Ken Delaney he would share a "little secret."

"I’ve got a couple haircuts while we were in the shutdown because I just wasn’t going to stand by and look like a shaggy dog," Shirkey said.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

When Delaney asked where the lawmaker trimmed his locks, Shirkey demurred but sounded defiant.

"I’m not gonna reveal my source," he said. "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."

A representative for Shirkey did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. 

In a statement to The Detroit News, Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Whitmer said: “More than 5,800 Michiganders have lost their battle with this killer virus. 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.”

Shirkey has criticized some of the governor's actions related to policies addressing COVID-19 and her incremental reopening of Michigan businesses that were closed because of the pandemic. In a recent opinion piece in The Detroit News, Shirkey said Whitmer "seems to be more focused on maintaining control than on following her own plan for reopening."

His comments about a haircut during the June 15 radio interview came the same day hair salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen.

The closures of those businesses as well as others statewide to help stem the virus prompted a conservative group to offer free haircuts on the state Capitol lawn.

Meanwhile, Owosso barber Karl Manke gained national attention for defying executive orders and continuing to work despite state officials calling on him to stop.

Last week, the state confirmed his license was restored. His attorney later announced the Attorney General's Office agreed to dismiss a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services lawsuit against Manke, which was an attempt to obtain an injunction to force the closure of the barbershop.

Manke still faces misdemeanor criminal charges filed by the Shiawassee County prosecutor and is contesting the formal complaint the state sought against him in an administrative license hearing on July 15, his attorney has said.