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The hypocrisy of Michigan Democrats

Aug 31, 2015

Well, this is the day everyone in Lansing has been waiting for. Unfortunately, if you think I’m talking about fixing the roads, you’re wrong.

No, this is the day the Michigan House of Representatives is due to release its report on the Todd Courser-Cindy Gamrat scandal. We already know they found evidence of misconduct and misuse of taxpayer resources.

I haven’t yet had a chance to read the report itself. But over the weekend, I was struck by the flamboyant and almost unnoticed hypocrisy on display here, not on the part of the two wretched adulterous representatives, but from … Michigan Democrats.

Their new leader, State Party Chairman Brandon Dillon was harshly critical last week of the decision not to release the report immediately. He worried that Republicans might be delaying the report in order to “sanitize it.”

He hinted they might be trying to cover up what the Speaker of the House knew and when he knew it. Well, that’s politics. But consider this. Boatloads of Republicans have harshly denounced Gamrat and Courser, who are also Republicans.

Many, including Congresswoman Candice Miller, have loudly called for them to resign immediately. Cotter had stopped short of that, but he did say, “My hope is that both would look internally and make that decision themselves.”

They are pariahs and embarrassments and everyone wants them gone. But what about … State Senator Virgil Smith, a Democrat from Detroit? Smith made headlines in May when he fired a reported ten shots into his ex-wife’s Mercedes in the wee hours one morning, when she apparently showed up to find him in bed with another woman.

Smith now faces charges of felonious assault, malicious destruction of property, possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony and, oh, yes, domestic violence. This comes after a past that has including shoplifting and drinking and driving. He apparently never has had what some would call a real job, but was elected to the legislature right out of college, possibly because his father was a state senator with the same name.

To me, Smith is even more of a disgrace than Courser and Gamrat. After all, they didn’t use firearms. We don’t know if Smith was trying to shoot his ex-wife, but he was blazing away on a residential street. Yet as far as I know, not a single Democrat in office has called on him to resign.

Not Brandon Dillon; not the Senate Minority Leader, Jim Ananich. They did take Smith’s committee assignments away, but he’s still there – drawing his paycheck, awaiting trial and all but forgotten by the news media, except, apparently, me.

Democratic politicians I’ve spoken to say the difference is that Smith didn’t commit his alleged indiscretions in the line of his legislative duty. But guess what?

Fourteen years ago, the state senate did expel a member for the only time in history: David Jaye, a Macomb County Republican. Know what they threw him out for? Drunken driving and domestic violence. Maybe it’s not surprising Courser and Gamrat thought they could hang on. I don’t know. But I do know this, until Democrats call for the expulsion of Senator Virgil Smith, I’m not interested in anything they say about the two Republicans in trouble in the House..

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.