Whitmer calls sexual harassment, misogyny 'unacceptable'

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said sexual harassment and misogyny don't belong in the workplace as embattled state Sen. Pete Lucido listened on the House floor. 

The Democratic governor noted there has been "an uptick in hateful, harmful language in Michigan and across the country. A lot of it starts in Washington, D.C., and now it feels like it’s working its way to Lansing.

"Whether it’s misogyny in the workplace or threats of violence online, this is unacceptable." 

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The female governor's comments come as three women have alleged Lucido, a Republican from Shelby Township, sexually harassed them. Lucido said in one case his comments were misunderstood; he denied one of the other allegations, and hasn't addressed the third.

Whitmer didn't mention Lucido by name as she urged residents and lawmakers to "live up to our responsibility to stand up to hate and harassment. 

"Remember, our children are watching," she concluded. "In Michigan, diversity is our strength."

Legislative staffers and lawmakers said the allegations against Lucido reflect an overall Lansing culture in which inappropriate comments from elected officials in positions of power go unaddressed. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recounted on Dec. 3, 2019, a personal story of being sexually assaulted at the "Let's End Campus Sexual Assault Summit" at Eastern Michigan University.

“Employees in #mileg are left without a clear path to address workplace concerns and know that they will be resolved,” former Senate staffer Elizabeth Battiste wrote a week ago Wednesday on Twitter. “How can you expect them to report more serious incidents?”

Lucido is alleged to have told a reporter Jan. 14 that a group of high school boys “could have a lot of fun” with her. A week later, a fellow senator accused the Shelby Township Republican of making a "degrading" implication during the 2018 orientation that she had won the election based on her looks.

A third allegation against Lucido emerged on Sunday. Melissa Osborn, who previously worked as a lobbyist for the Michigan Credit Union League, said during a conference in May, Lucido held his hand in an inappropriate place on her body while making extended comments about the dress she was wearing. 

When Donahue's account emerged, Lucido first apologized for the "misunderstanding," but later said his comments were taken of context. He denied McMorrow's story and said it was politically motivated. Lucido has not commented on Osborn's allegations.

The Senate Business Office hired an outside law firm to investigate the claims. 

The Michigan House recently revamped its sexual harassment training materials and made training an annual requirement for staff and lawmakers. 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, has said he's open to exploring changes to the Senate policy. 


Twitter: @DNBethLeBlanc