Michigan GOP senators briefly post differing letters to Congress on election claims

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Eleven Michigan Republican senators want Wednesday's joint session of Congress to "pursue every available option" to examine claims of wrongdoing in the election, according to a newly released letter.

That letter was one of two versions of the GOP lawmakers' request of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence posted on social media Tuesday night. In one version, described as a draft that was accidentally released publicly, the lawmakers asked Congress to "temporarily delay certification in the name of national unity."

The final version didn't include that statement and instead called on "the imminent joint session of Congress to pursue every available option and procedure to examine the credible allegations of election-related concerns surrounding fraud and irregularities."

Eleven Michigan senators signed a letter asking the U.S. Congress to investigate claims of misconduct in the election.

State Sen. John Bizon, R-Battle Creek, said his staff had accidentally selected an early draft of the letter from a text message thread. The early draft "was not the version circulated to the signers," Bizon said.

"The incorrect version was never sent to Congress or the vice president," he added.

The letter was revealed a day before the U.S. House and Senate are scheduled to meet to certify and count the official votes of presidential electors. They are expected to declare President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, the winner. However, some Republicans plan to challenge the results of battleground states, including Michigan.

Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes, but supporters of President Donald Trump have sought to discredit the result through public statements and legal challenges focused on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud.

The 11 Michigan senators say they want Congress and federal law enforcement to conduct an "objective and transparent investigation into credible allegations of misconduct" in the election.

"We do not seek to overturn the will of the people," the letter from the Michigan senators says. "However, it is vital that the citizenry at-large be confident that the election results were accurate and free from misconduct, criminal or otherwise."

Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township, posted the early draft of the letter on Facebook on Tuesday night and then replaced the post with one featuring the final draft of the letter.

"Following the election, we requested a full, independent audit be conducted before the State Board of Canvassers certified our state’s election results," LaSata wrote. "Our request was not respected."

Bridge Michigan reported that Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, also shared the early draft before posting the final version.

Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, said he had never seen the early version of the letter that was posted on social media.

Others who signed the letter were: Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte; Kevin Daley, R-Lum; Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Township; Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes; Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington; Roger Victory, R-Hudsonville; and Dale Zorn, R-Ida.

The 11 lawmakers represent more than half of the 20 Republican state senators currently serving.

This was an early draft of a letter from Michigan senators seeking a delay in the certification of the election's results by Congress.

Michigan lawmakers have launched oversight hearings examining the Nov. 3 election. Those hearings will continue into 2021 and the election review will be a top priority, said Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, last week.

When asked about overturning the result, Shirkey said lawmakers "have not discovered anything yet that would cause me to want to take that kind of dramatic action in Michigan."

Bipartisan canvassing boards in all 83 counties have certified election results and courts have repeatedly rejected suits to reverse Biden's victory.