University of Michigan
GOP Chair Ron Weiser.
The University of Michigan Board of Regents will gather for a special meeting Friday morning to consider censuring Michigan GOP Chair and fellow Regent Ron Weiser following his contentious remarks about elected officials.
Weiser came under fire last week after video surfaced
of him calling the state’s top Democratic officials “witches” and referring to “assassination” as an option for removing two Republican congressmen who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.
The board does not have the authority to remove Weiser, who was elected to a eight-year term on the Board of Regents in 2016. He’s one of two Republicans on the eight-member board. The other six members are Democrats.
A censure vote is a symbolic gesture of disapproval.
Weiser, who has rejected a deluge of calls to resign and initially claimed his comments were taken out of context, issued a statement Saturday, a day after The Detroit News reported
on his remarks.
“In an increasingly vitriolic political environment, we should all do better to treat each other with respect, myself included. I fell short of that the other night,” Weiser said. “I apologize to those I offended for the flippant analogy about three women who are elected officials and for the off-hand comments about two other leaders. I have never advocated for violence and never will.”
Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, who has a history of making divisive remarks
, defended Weiser’s comments on Friday, calling the media attention “a distraction.”
“Too bad all the snowflakes in the mainstream media see misogyny where it doesn't exist,” Maddock tweeted. “Calling someone a witch is NOT misogynist. This is more of the same from the left – instantly label everything as ‘misogyny’ or ‘racist.’ This hurts real efforts to become a more just society.”
In a speech at the North Oakland Republican Club on March 25, Weiser expressed his desire to oust Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, whose first terms end in 2022.
“Our job now is to soften up those three witches and make sure we have good candidates to run against them, that they are ready for the burning at the stake,” Weiser said about the women.
In the same meeting, an audience member asked Weiser how to deal with the “witches in our own party,” referring to Michigan Republican U.S. Reps. Peter Meijer and Fed Upton, who voted to impeach Trump.
“Other than assassination, I have no other way than voting them out,” Weiser said.
The comments drew intense criticism. In an interview on CNN on Wednesday, Whitmer referred to the 13 men who have been arrested for allegedly plotting to kidnap her and said the contentious rhetoric from Weiser and other Republicans is “continuing to throw gas on this fire.” “And it is dangerous, it’s unacceptable, and I’ve been, for almost a year now, calling on people to bring down the heat,” Whitmer said.
In January 2020, Metro Times
revealed dozens of threats of violence
against Whitmer and other Democrats on a Facebook page. The public group, “People vs Gov. Gretchen Whitmer,” was rapidly growing and attracted nearly 9,000 conservatives of all kinds – elected officials, veterans, firefighters, law enforcement officers, educators, pastors, business owners, political candidates, militia members, blue-collar workers, and your garden variety trolls.
Nessel said Weiser’s comments will spur more threats of violence.
“As a gay, Jewish woman, I have long since learned to respond to hateful rhetoric with humor,” Nessel said. “But as a prosecutor, I know these remarks are certain to inspire further death threats which will eventually be acted upon.”
University of Michigan officials also criticized Weiser.
“Such words are particularly abhorrent in a climate where so recently the use of language has engendered violence and attempted violence directed at elected officials, our democratic institutions, and the individuals who guard them,” U-M President Mark Schlissel said in a statement.
U-M Board of Regent Jordan Acker called on Weiser to resign.
“Ron Weiser's reckless and dangerous language does not reflect the values of our Board and our Institution,” Acker tweeted
. “Comments about removal by ‘assassination’ are a literal attack on our Democracy, and are incredibly dangerous in light of the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. And the FBI-thwarted attacks on our Governor. Furthermore, sexist language referring to the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State as ‘witches’ has no place on our campus. This language and behavior is incompatible with service to the University of Michigan.”
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