Lawmaker files PPO against fellow state rep accused of making 'threats'

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Lansing — A Birmingham lawmaker has secured a personal protection order against a fellow representative who is alleged to have sent threatening messages to her. 

Democratic state Rep. Mari Manoogian was granted the PPO against Republican state Rep. Steve Marino of Harrison Township "to help ensure her safety and well-being," said Kelly McClintock, who is representing Manoogian.

"This PPO was granted based on the court determining that irreparable harm was likely to occur from the delay required to effect notice," McClintock said in a statement. "Grewal Law is working with others to help ensure the representatives' safety as she focuses on her number one priority — working on behalf of her constituents at the state Capitol."

It is not clear how a personal protection order taken out against State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, will affect his ability to appear on the Michigan House floor for votes.

The order was issued by Ingham County Judge Lisa McCormick and is in effect for one year, largely prohibiting Marino from communicating with or confronting Manoogian, McClintock said. 

It's not clear how the order will affect Marino's ability to be present on the House floor during session, even as the Legislature next week prepares to vote on the state budget.

"It’s a really interesting situation here because It says that he can’t occupy the same property that she is on," McClintock said. "...We didn’t put that on the petition, but the judge included it.”

Michigan House leadership is working out what action to take in light of the order, McClintock said. 

House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, removed Marino from his committee assignments earlier this week, but the lawmaker is still able to participate in House session.

"The safety of those who serve at the Capitol is a priority for Speaker Wentworth," Wentworth's spokesman Gideon D'Assandro said Friday. "He will review the order and confer with legal counsel and the non-partisan human resources staff on any changes that need to be made."

"I haven’t seen it," said Mike Rataj, a lawyer for Marino. "I anticipate we’ll be receiving it on Monday. I’ll review it and we’ll be moving to set it aside.”

The Michigan State Police confirmed Wednesday it is investigating a complaint involving Marino.

Manoogian, 29, indicated in a Wednesday statement that she had a "volatile relationship" with Marino, 31, and that "threats" led to his removal as chairman of the House Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Manoogian, who is in her second term, asked for privacy as she takes "steps to ensure my safety" and continues to represent her Oakland County district.

"None of us are immune to a volatile relationship, regardless of our career," Manoogian said in a statement Wednesday. "It can happen right here in our Legislature, where abuse of power and threats to ruin a colleague's reputation, as well as threats of public shaming, can be used to intimidate fellow members of the Legislature."

Wentworth issued his own statement Wednesday, saying he will always "prioritize the safety of state legislators and those who are serving their community at the state Capitol."

"The House will continue to assist with the Michigan State Police investigation, take every precaution to ensure Rep. Manoogian's safety and ultimately allow the legal process to play out," he said. "We will be able to provide further updates at the appropriate time.”

State Rep. Mari Manoogian, D-Birmingham, has secure a personal protection order against State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township.

Marino on Thursday said he regretted not disclosing his relationship with Manoogian to House leadership, but he maintained their relationship ended "well over a year ago." 

"I will be clear: The insinuations made are nothing more than politically motivated character assassination that I am confident will conclude as a waste of the public's time," Marino said in a statement. "I look forward to fulfilling my duties and maintaining the trust I've worked so hard to build during my seven years in public office."

Manoogian had served on the Commerce and Tourism Committee with Marino, who is serving his third and final term.