Investigators: Michigan Sen. Lucido was 'inappropriate' toward women
April 21, 2021 update: Michigan Senate to update sexual harassment policy amid reckoning in Lansing
LANSING — Michigan Sen. Peter Lucido has been kicked off a top committee and ordered to undergo additional training after investigators found the Shelby Township Republican engaged in an "unfortunate pattern" of "inappropriate workplace behavior" toward women.
State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, had ordered the investigation and on Thursday released summary findings from the Senate Business Office. He responded by removing Lucido from the powerful Advice and Consent Committee, which he had chaired.
“We take accusations of inappropriate behavior in the workplace very seriously,” Shirkey said in a statement. “It is my sincere hope that this experience will help serve as motivation for us all to do better and be better in our personal interactions and our public discourse.”
- Related: Michigan senator faces sexual harassment probe over comments to reporter
- Senator accuses Lucido of harassment as #MeToo reckoning hits Michigan Capitol
Lucido, a bombastic lawmaker who has hinted he may run for governor in 2022, didn't immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment. An attorney, he also chairs the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
Lucido first came under fire in mid-January after reportedly telling 22-year-old Michigan Advance journalist Allison Donahue she could “have a lot of fun” with a group of schoolboys visiting the Michigan Capitol.
“Or they could have a lot of fun with you,” he told Donahue, according to the first-person account she published.
Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, filed a sexual harassment complaint against Lucido the next week, saying he had placed his hand on her lower back, scanned her body with his eyes and commented on her looks during an orientation session two days after they both won election in November 2018.
Melissa Osborn, a lobbyist for the Michigan Credit Union League, reported a similarly uncomfortable interaction in which Lucido put his hand on her "lower back/upper butt."
Investigators from the Senate Business Office and Dickinson Wright law firm said those claims could not be "unequivocally substantiated" but found all three accusers to be "credible."
"Therefore, taking into consideration the totality of the evidence presented, including the number of complaints and similarities among allegations, the investigators concluded it is 'more likely than not' that each incident occurred as reported by the accusers," Senate Business Office Director Jordan Hankwitz said in summary findings.
Under Michigan Senate policy, Shirkey had discretion to determine any disciplinary action against Lucido.
In addition to additional training for Lucido, the majority leader noted plans for a new bipartisan workgroup comprised of senators and staff to review current workplace policies and suggest possible improvements. Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, is expected to lead that effort.
"We place a high priority on ensuring the senate is a safe work environment," Shirkey said."We endeavor to foster a culture where senators, staff, and members of the public feel comfortable and secure to interact with one another, free from inappropriate behavior.”
McMorrow called the Senate investigation and Shirkey's response a "step in the right direction."
"I still think we have a lot of work to do as a workplace, overall, to make sure that this is a safe place to work and that everybody feels comfortable and that people feel like they have a safe process to report when things happen,” she said.
As Bridge Magazine previously reported, Donahue's January 15 account prompted women in and around the Michigan Capitol to speak out against a lingering "boys club" culture and similar incidents they experienced in past years.
"None of this would have happened without Allison," McMorrow said. "I can't imagine how scary that must have been — you know, she's 22. It helped me come forward as well."
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