Oakland clerk accuses state senator of assault

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
Lisa Brown

Pontiac — Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown said Thursday she is filing an assault and battery complaint against state Sen. Martin “Marty” Knollenberg for allegedly squeezing her arm in a painful manner at an event after the State of the County address.

Brown, 49, made a preliminary report of the incident Wednesday night and was seen being escorted out of the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac hotel to her car by an Oakland County sheriff’s deputy about an hour after county Executive L. Brooks Patterson finished his address.

“I haven’t issued a full complaint yet — I was shaking so much I couldn’t write last night — and I really don’t want to discuss this until that is complete,” said Brown, when asked to comment Thursday.

The incident occurred at the end of Patterson’s speech as the packed hall emptied for an adjacent afterglow celebration. A preliminary report indicates Brown and Knollenberg and his wife were all seated in the same row and as Brown was picking up her personal items and coat, Knollenberg tried to talk to her.

When Brown declined, the lawmaker allegedly firmly grabbed her arm and wouldn’t let go until others interceded.

Knollenberg could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said, “Sen. Knollenberg denies any aggressive behavior” toward Brown.

The sheriff’s office confirmed a preliminary report was taken from Brown and the matter would eventually be reviewed by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office to determine if any charges are warranted.

Brown, a Democrat, and Knollenberg, a Republican, served together in the State House of Representatives.

McCann said Knollenberg said “he attended the event and greeted (Brown) and there was a brief conversation ... and didn’t know of her concerns or accusations until reading them today. He was surprised and feels this had been a misunderstanding.

“He said he stayed at the event briefly with his wife and left without any conversation about any incident. He has not been contacted by investigators.”

McCann said she didn’t know what the topic was of their conversation.

Brown, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, is running for a second term as county clerk. She defeated incumbent Clerk Bill Bullard, a Republican, who recently announced plans to oppose Brown in the next election for his former post.

The 52-year-old Knollenberg of Troy is in the second year of a four-year term in the Senate. He is the son of the former U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg.

Marty Knollenberg made headlines in December for perceived racist comments he made regarding failing school districts of predominately African-American students in Michigan.

In a presentation before the Senate Education Committee, state reform officer Natasha Baker said: “what we know about priority schools is the that most of the students are economically disadvantaged or black/African American or Hispanic/non-white and unlikely to be college ready.”

After the presentation Knollenberg said: “And you mentioned why these schools fail and you mentioned the economically disadvantaged and the non-white population are contributors to that. And we can’t fix that. We can’t make an African-American white. It is what it is. So we can’t fix that. But we have this situation and we find our schools serving these children faced with those factors. And there should be no failing schools.”

His response about not being able to make African-American children white angered many, including teachers unions.

Knollenberg later apologized for what he called a “clunky choice of words” that did not clearly reflect his thoughts on the issue.

During her time in the Legislature, Brown made national headlines when she was sanctioned by House Republicans for saying “vagina” during debate in the chamber on abortion bills. Brown had her speaking privileges suspended for a day for saying “vagina” as was former state Rep. Barb Byrum for saying “vasectomy” when discussing an amendment to the anti-abortion bill.

Republican lawmakers insisted they were upset with Brown insinuating that the anti-abortion bill under discussion was akin to rape.

She also was involved in a public fight with a former legislative aide who said Brown fired her for being pregnant while working for the Bloomfield Hills Democrat. Ericah Caughey said in 2012 that Brown became hostile to her after she became pregnant three years earlier, called her “preggers” and directed a crude abortion comment at her while watching an anti-abortion rally on the Capitol lawn. Brown sued Caughey for defamation.


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