Rep. Marino told Rep. Manoogian to 'hide on House floor,' court records show

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Republican state Rep. Steve Marino said he would make it his "life mission to destroy" Democratic state Rep. Mari Manoogian, according to text message screenshots in Michigan court records. 

The texts were part of a filing Manoogian made last week in an effort to obtain a personal protection order against Marino, whom Michigan State Police officials confirmed they are investigating following allegations. The two lawmakers previously dated briefly.

Marino, a third-term lawmaker from Harrison Township, also said he hoped Manoogian's "car explodes on the way in" and warned the Birmingham Democrat to "hide on the House floor" in a series of texts in which they also discussed business for the House Commerce and Tourism Committee — on which they both served, according to the records.

State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township

"You're truly the worst human being I've ever met. I mean that with the utmost sincerity. Just a parasite," wrote Marino, who is serving his last term in the House. It's not clear from the screenshots in the court filing when the texts were written. 

In her request for a personal protection order last week, second-term lawmaker Manoogian, 29, alleged Marino, 31, started acting threateningly toward her in early 2020, a short time after their four-month relationship, which Manoogian has called "volatile," ended.  

"Face to face and over text, Steve began threatening me and harassing me," Manoogian wrote in a statement attached to her PPO petition. "It has escalated to a point where I fear for my safety and for Steve's own safety."

Marino said in a statement last week that the allegations amounted to "character assassination." The GOP legislator has said the relationship ended more than a year ago.

"These statements are so out of context, and we’re simply going to move to set it aside," Marino's lawyer, Mike Rataj, said Monday of the allegations contained in the PPO request. "We’ll have a lot more to say once we get into court.”

State Rep. Mari Manoogian, D-Birmingham

The PPO includes a stipulation preventing Marino from occupying the same property that Manoogian is on. It's not yet clear how the order will be enforced Tuesday when House lawmakers are expected to return to session. The House Business Office as well as House sergeants and attorneys are still reviewing the matter, said Gideon D'Assandro, a spokesman for House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell. 

Wentworth removed Marino from his committee assignments last week after hearing of the allegations from Manoogian and House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township. But Marino is still allowed to participate on the House floor after being removed from the committees. The House is expected to vote on next year's budget this week. 

In her PPO petition, Manoogian said Marino "emotionally and verbally abused me relentlessly."

"After trying to ignore Steve's threats and harassment for 21 months, and begging him to stop texting me in this harassing manner countless times, I had no choice but to report his abuse to my Democratic Leader," Manoogian wrote. 

She expressed concerns that Marino's "mental health will continue to deteriorate" to the point that he would endanger both Manoogian and himself. Marino also knows where her family lives, Manoogian said.

"The way that Steve switches his hateful anger on and off towards me is unhealthy, it terrifies me, and it makes me believe he is suffering from a legitimate mental break of some type," she said. 

Attached to the petition are screenshots of text messages between Manoogian and Marino in which he threatens to "destroy" her and expresses hope that her car explodes, before attaching a presentation on "AV/battery bs." The texts appear to have been preceded by a conversation about a pet. 

In a separate screenshot that ended with arrangements for committee testimony, Marino told her to "hide on the House Floor."

"... because I'm going to park right next to your desk and ream you a new ---hole each session day until I leave that place," he wrote, according to the screenshot. 

Manoogian responded, "I just woke up. What." 

Marino wrote back: "There should be a Citizen's Guide to State Government on your desk...courtesy of my office."

The fallout following Marino and Manoogian's relationship comes about six years after the affair of state Reps. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, made headlines in 2015. 

A House Business Office investigation and hearings ensued after The Detroit News reported a recording that showed that Courser asked an aide to distribute a fictional email alleging he had sex with a male prostitute in a bid to conceal an affair with Gamrat.

The state House voted to expel Gamrat from office for misconduct involving her extramarital affair with Courser — one hour after the Lapeer lawmaker abruptly resigned.