Inkster Rep. Jones offers letters of exemptions for COVID vaccines

Noelle Gray
The Detroit News

A controversial state lawmaker from Inkster appears to be offering exemptions for people who don't want to get the COVID-19 vaccines.

Democrat Rep. Jewell Jones is offering via Instagram to write letters for his constituents who want exemptions from getting a vaccine, which some workplaces, schools and businesses are now requiring.  

On Saturday, Jones posted an image to his Instagram account, saying, "If anybody needs letter from me to support you filling out an exemption for vaccination for work or school purposes, let me know."

Jones told his 41,000 followers, "can’t make any promises but it’s worth a sHoT.

"God gave us choice: Do good and live, or do evil and die. Choice(s) is/are an integral aspect of the foundation of our world. Why should you be forced to do anything. #HOLLA (at me)."

Prior to that, Jones had been posting vaccine skeptical memes to his Instagram stories, including one featuring "Mad Men" actor Jon Hamm that said, "Stop saying you did your research before the injection. You are the research."

Jones did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday morning. 

Jones' Democratic colleague Rep. Laurie Pohutsky of Livonia said she believes Jones is misleading constituents by spreading of dangerous misinformation.

"Things like the representative posted about the vaccine altering your DNA, that is completely inaccurate," Pohutsky said Tuesday. "That is not the type of information we want to be giving people who are looking at us as leaders in the community."

Jones' district includes part of Livonia. 

More than 173 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, including 4.7 million in Michigan. About 55.6% of residents 12 years and older have been completely vaccinated, according to the state health department's website.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services all say the vaccines are safe and effective. 

Jones has drawn other criticism in recent months. In July, Jones filed a fundraising report that showed him spending $221 of his campaign money at a strip club in Dearborn for a March 8 "constituent meeting" to discuss "potential economic projects."

The campaign finance disclosure, which covered Jan. 1 through July 20, revealed his account spent more than $6,400 over the period at restaurants or lounges for events that were described as "meetings."

Overall, the committee spent $15,926 over the first seven months of the year, including $12,057 on costs that were "incidental" to Jones holding office.

Jones, a third-term lawmaker, also made headlines after he was arrested on April 6 after his black Chevy Tahoe drifted in and out of lanes along Interstate 96 before pulling off the shoulder and into a ditch, according to a Michigan State Police report. He was accused of struggling with troopers after the crash and allegedly told officers that he'd call the governor and that he had oversight of the MSP budget. 

His blood alcohol content, according to the police report, was 0.19. The legal driving limit is 0.08.

Jones' attorney has said that police were being unnecessarily rough with Jones during the arrest. In late June, Livingston County District Judge Daniel Bain bound Jones over for trial on charges including drunken driving and resisting and obstructing police.