Column: Draining the Lansing swamp
By now many of you have heard that Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof instructed the Senate Business Office to relieve me of my committee assignments and take direct control of my Senate office. The only precedent for such action to the best of my knowledge has been in response to former Sen. Virgil Smith shooting up his ex-wife’s car in a fit of rage.
What was my offense? In a letter received by my office notifying me of Meekhof’s actions, no offense was specified. Nor has any offense been formally specified since. There have, however, been nebulous claims of “caucus rules violations” or “disparaging colleagues in their districts.”
In response to such false claims, I encourage people to ask for evidence of such violations or disparaging statements. Trust me, if Meekhof had anything that would withstand reasoned public scrutiny, he would have gone well beyond anonymous false innuendos at this stage to make his case. But I can honestly say that my office and I have done everything possible to navigate the hoops and hurdles of caucus rules, Senate rules, campaign finance laws and all of the other laws that I can think of. So, what is really going on?
This is not the first outrageous leadership action taken. Despite four years of exemplary service as the chairman of the state police and Department of Military and Veterans Affairs budget committees, I was the only Republican senator not assigned a chairmanship when he assumed the role of Senate majority leader.
When I met with the majority leader to ascertain the rationale for his decision, the top two reasons he cited were my vocal opposition to Medicaid expansion (i.e. Section 2001 of Obamacare) and Common Core education standards. Mind you, my position is consistent with the position of the Republican Party’s platform.
So, what was my real offense? Looking out for the best interests of our citizens instead of the special interests in Lansing.
I have consistently gone beyond simply voting “No” and openly advocated for solutions that serve the best interests of our citizens. These solutions often do not reflect the policy positions promoted by the Senate majority leader and more influential donors. In other words, I was doing my job. Like many of you, I opposed Proposal 1 and the subsequent gas tax increase. Like many of you, I oppose economic policies that pick winners and losers.
Meekhof appears to view opposition as “insubordination.” In fact, he openly accused me of “insubordination” on the Senate floor. In response to his accusation, I simply said, “I do not work for you. I work for the citizens of Michigan.” I was relieved of my committee assignments shortly thereafter.
You see, the only rule that I have violated during my tenure in the Senate is the unwritten rule that I am supposed to serve the Senate majority leader and ignore the best interests of my constituents along with the broader interests of the citizens of Michigan. President Trump coined a term for an environment governed by such unwritten rules — the swamp.
I didn’t run for office to serve the Senate majority leader. I ran to serve the citizens of Michigan. That is exactly what I will continue to do.
Make no mistake, if I’m elected as your next governor, I won’t take any orders from the swamp — I’ll drain it.
Sen. Patrick Colbeck is a candidate for governor of Michigan.