US lawmaker probed for comments to female reporter
A US lawmaker is facing investigation for telling a reporter schoolboys “could have a lot of fun” with her.
Allison Donahue, 22, said she felt “humiliated” by the comment Michigan state senator Peter Lucido made when she went to him for comment on a story.
His remark was “belittling and it came from a place of power”, she said.
Mr Lucido, 59, initially told US media the incident was “blown out of proportion”, and tweeted an apology for what he called “the misunderstanding”.
Two state senate leaders have called for an investigation into whether his remarks amounted to sexual harassment.
What is said to have happened?
In a report for her newspaper, the Michigan Advance, Ms Donahue said she was seeking comment from Mr Lucido, a Republican, about claims he was a member of a since-deleted Facebook group targeting Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Members of that group had also posted messages advocating violence against Democrats and Muslims, local media reported.
Ms Donahue wrote that Mr Lucido told her he would speak to her after honouring a group of students from an all-boys’ high school, who were standing just behind him.
As she turned to leave, she said that he told her: “You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you.”
Ms Donahue added: “The teenagers burst into an Old Boys’ Network-type of laughter, and I walked away knowing that I had been the punch line of their ‘locker room’ talk.
“Except it wasn’t the locker room; it was the senate chamber. And this isn’t high school. It’s my career.”
What has Mr Lucido said?
On Wednesday morning Mr Lucido didn’t dispute the quotes, but told the Detroit Free Press that he didn’t feel he owed Ms Donahue an apology.
He then tweeted: “I apologise for the misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue.”
Later the same day, he alleged that he was misquoted – telling local broadcaster WDIV-TV that he had actually said “we’re going on the [senate] floor to have some fun, you’re welcome to join us”.
What has the response been?
De La Salle high school, whose students were shadowing Mr Lucido at the time of the incident, issued a statement distancing itself from the senator’s comments.
School officials had met the boys who were present to “discuss the improper nature of this situation”, the statement added.
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Meanwhile, Michigan state senate leaders Mike Shirkey, a Republican, and Jim Ananich, a Democrat, asked the senate business office to investigate Mr Lucido’s comments.
“Sexual harassment has no place in the Michigan senate,” they wrote in a joint statement. “We take these allegations seriously and trust that you will take appropriate action to resolve this matter.”
Mr Ananich also told the Associated Press that Mr Lucido’s comments, and his apology, were “disgusting”.
“What his statement, his apology was basically saying [was], ‘I’m sorry you realise I’m a jerk, and I’m a creep’,” Mr Ananich said. “Leaders in this state, whether they’re men or women, they don’t act like this.”
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