Weiser Fallout Continues To Get Worse As Leaders Across Michigan Condemn “Witches,” “Burn at the Stake,” “Assassination” Comments

LANSING — Today, MI GOP Chairman Ron Weiser continued a third straight day of intense pressure across the state to resign, including half the Board of Regents that serve with him at University of Michigan. Last Friday, he earned swift outrage for comments calling Gov. Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson “witches” to be “burn[ed] at the stake” and suggested “assassination” as a way to free up seats occupied by other elected officials.

Here’s what leaders across Michigan have been saying:

UM President Mark Schlissel: “It is never appropriate to raise the specter of assassination or perpetuate misogynistic stereotypes against anyone in any setting. Elected officials must adhere to a higher standard regardless of the context of their remarks.”

UM Provost Susan Collins: “I, too, found Regent Weiser’s remarks to be demeaning to women and contrary to the democratic values of our state and country. […] Violent references and images are never acceptable ways to counter those with whom we disagree.”

Open letter signed by 19 UM deans: “Your words do damage and disrespect not only to women in leadership positions, whether elected or appointed, but also to young women who will lead in the future. […] We believe that sexist name calling and threats of violence, especially from those in positions of power, simply are not acceptable.”

UMich Board of Regents Chair Denise Ilitch: “It is so disturbing to learn of the repugnant language used by a member of our Board when addressing a political group. His use of violent imagery crosses a line that is inconsistent with what should be our shared values. There should be no place for physical threats by elected or political leaders on our Board or in our State.”

Board of Regents Vice Chair Jordan Acker: “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. […] This language and behavior is incompatible with service to the University of Michigan. Given that, the only appropriate response, and the best thing for the University of Michigan, is for Ron Weiser to resign.”

Regent Paul Brown: “I can only come to the conclusion that any official, including Regent Weiser, who would unrepentantly engage in such speech should not remain in public office, especially at an institution like the University of Michigan, which so values upholding gender equality and protection of women’s rights.”

Regent Mark Bernstein: “Our job as regents is to be responsible stewards of the University of Michigan. In doing so, we must protect democracy, honor public service and support our students. Regent Weiser has failed to do so. Our university and the people of this state deserve better. He should resign.”

Regent Michael Behm: “The word assassination should never be uttered by a publicly elected official in any speech. As for the other comments, misogyny has no place in our society. They are completely antithetical to what our university is about.”

Republican Strategist Mike Murphy: “Ron Weiser is an old friend of mine but this was way beneath him. Stupid, corrosive and dangerous. Pandering to cranks. He knows better. No place in American politics for the word assassination. He owes Fred Upton and Peter Meijer a very big apology.”

Congregation of Catholic Sisters in Michigan: “This language is not only abhorrent on its face, it poses a real and present danger to the three elected leaders and to all women in Michigan, giving bullies and abusers public license to vent their anger and vitriol on the bodies of real women in our cities, neighborhoods, and State Capitol.”

MDP Chair Lavora Barnes: “As a member of the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents, he oversees millions of taxpayer dollars. It’s clear his comments do not reflect the values of the university’s board, faculty, and student body. His statements are not only sexist, but markedly dangerous and will only serve to damage the institution’s reputation. We call on him to resign immediately.”

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