Senator files sexual harassment complaint against Lucido

Beth LeBlanc Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — A freshman Metro Detroit senator filed a sexual harassment complaint against state Sen. Pete Lucido on Tuesday after an encounter she had with him during an orientation for lawmakers in 2018.

Sen. Mallory McMorrow's allegation is the second to surface against the Shelby Township Republican in a week. On Wednesday, a female reporter revealed that Lucido had allegedly made inappropriate comments to her in front of a group of high school boys.

The Senate Business Office will investigate both allegations, and the Republican-controlled Senate is hiring outside legal counsel to assist.

McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, said in a Tuesday morning interview that Lucido, a Shelby Township Republican who had served two terms in the House, put his hand on her lower back and held it there.

“When I said that I had beaten my opponent, he just said, ‘I can see why,'" McMorrow said.

Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-13th District

“It was an implication that you won because of what you look like," the 33-year-old lawmaker told The Detroit News. "It was degrading and deflating, something that weighs on you.”

Crain’s Detroit Business first reported the alleged incident Tuesday. Lucido, a 59-year-old attorney by trade, told The News that he categorically denied McMorrow's allegation, “which I believe is completely untrue and politically motivated."

McMorrow rejected that idea as she prepared for Senate session on Tuesday, saying that her complaint won't help her politically in a traditional Republican district. McMorrow beat Republican incumbent Sen. Marty Knollenberg of Troy in 2018 by 4 percentage points.

"Frankly, there’s no upside for me," she said. "There’s a real possibility that it ruins my reelection campaign."

McMorrow’s disclosure came less than a week after the Senate Business Office launched an investigation into sexual harassment allegations made by Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue.

Donahue had approached Lucido for an interview last week at the Capitol in front of a group of high school boys when Lucido suggested the group of boys “could have a lot of fun” with her, Donahue said in a column on the incident.

Sen Peter Lucido, R-36th District

McMorrow said her encounter with Lucido occurred during a Nov. 8, 2018, orientation. The senator said she was inspired to file a complaint after reading about Donahue's column about Lucido.

"I knew I could do something," she said.

As a new senator, the calculus of revealing the incident "didn't make sense" immediately after it happened, McMorrow said.

Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, speaks to reporters on Tuesday afternoon after filing a harassment complaint against fellow Sen. Pete Lucido, R-Shelby Township.

The nonpartisan Senate Business Office will be in charge of investigating both incidents. The findings of the investigation — whether or not Senate policies were broken — will be released but not full details of the inquiry, said Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.

The Senate is in the process of hiring outside legal counsel to help with the investigations, said McCann, who added that the incidents will be investigated on their own merits.

McMorrow told reporters Tuesday afternoon that she would welcome an apology from Lucido.

"There's always going to be awkward moments. We deal with sensitive issues. Politics is divisive enough as it is," McMorrow added. "It has to be a place where we can act together as colleagues and understand that this is a workplace for everybody in this building."

McCann said she was aware of no other complaints against Lucido.