Crowd supportive of Lucido, who declines to discuss reporter incident

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Washington Township — A state senator under investigation for alleged inappropriate remarks to a female reporter had coffee with about 60 of his constituents Friday but declined to discuss the matter.

For more than an hour, Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, touched on questions regarding roads, pollution, health care and more. But he drew the line on discussing comments made earlier this week to a reporter from the Michigan Advance in the presence of a group of male high school students from De La Salle Collegiate in Warren.

Michigan State Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, addresses a crowd of 60 people on Friday, January 17, 2020, in Washington Township.

“I do my best, but I get called out so much because I’m too vocal,” Lucido said after explaining Senate rules barred him from discussing a matter under investigation to determine whether his remarks violated Senate rules related to sexual harassment.

“Instead I should be the church mouse,” he said. “I’m just not that guy.”

While Lucido’s explanations to date satisfied most of those at the coffee hour, others left disappointed. Some in attendance were from outside Lucido's Macomb County district. 

“He is an elected official, and he is also an attorney and held to higher standards,” said Kara Sprague of Clarkston. “He understands what is appropriate. He skirted the issue and only went as far as apologizing if there had been a misunderstanding of his remarks. That’s no apology.”

But Washington Township resident Frank Bartlett defended the senator, saying “all of this was blown out of proportion” and Lucido “was just trying to make a joke.”

At issue was an exchange outside the Senate chamber Tuesday in which Lucido asked 22-year-old Allison Donahue if she had heard of the all-boys school and suggested she join them on the Senate floor. Donahue reported the group of boys burst into laughter when Lucido said: “You should hang around — you could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you."

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate announced Wednesday afternoon they asked the Senate Business Office to investigate whether the incident violated Senate rules.

Constituents among a crowd of about 60 people at a coffee and conversation event in Washington Township Friday listen attentively to Michigan State Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township,  January 17, 2020.

Lucido has since said the remarks he made were taken out of context. He told at least one other media outlet that he said: "We're going out (on the Senate floor), we're going to have some fun. You're more than welcome to come."

Christy Hay of Washington Township said she was “glad” an investigation is being done.

Gabrielle Bratic of Royal Oak said she was “very disappointed” reading of the Senate incident and believed Lucido’s remarks, including Friday, were “less than an acceptable apology.”

Roger VanPamel of Washington Township got into a brief shouting match with other attendees when he said he was interrupted in expressing his views.

“I listened to them and didn’t interrupt but as soon as I began saying some things — like perhaps we should set up a GoFundMe to help that reporter with mental health treatment — I was shouted down,” VanPamel said. “That’s not right.”

The group applauded Lucido before he left. Norman Kas-Mikha of Shelby Township stood up and thanked Lucido for making himself available to residents.

“I appreciate him “ Kas-Mikha said as Lucido shook a few hands before leaving the building.

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