Attention Readers: Find Us in Your Mailbox Soon
With the coronavirus stats going in the right direction, all of us at C&G Newspapers look forward to resuming publication of the St. Clair Shores Sentinel and Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle on May 27th. All other C&G newspapers will begin publishing on June 10th (Advertiser-Times on June 24th). In the meantime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

Senate investigation into Lucido concludes

By: Sarah Wojcik | C&G Newspapers | Published March 11, 2020

 Peter Lucido

Peter Lucido

SHELBY TOWNSHIP/ROYAL OAK — A Senate Business Office investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against state Sen. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, recently concluded.

In response to the investigation’s findings that “Lucido’s conduct ‘demonstrates an unfortunate pattern of behavior’ that requires ‘little to no interpretation to be understood as inappropriate workplace behavior,’” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, removed Lucido from the Michigan Senate Advice and Consent Committee, which he chaired, and required that he participate in additional training.

Jordan C. Hankwitz, director of the Senate Business Office, supervised the investigation after Shirkey and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, drafted a joint letter Jan. 15 tasking Hankwitz to investigate allegations outlined by Allison Donahue, a reporter for the Michigan Advance, in a first-person narrative published online the same day.

Hankwitz worked with Sueann Mitchell, the office’s nonpartisan legal counsel and human resources manager, to conduct a “thorough and impartial investigation into this complaint,” according to a March 5 letter addressed to Shirkey and Ananich.

In subsequent weeks, Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, and Melissa Osborn, of the Michigan Credit Union League, made additional allegations against Lucido, so the Senate Business Office hired a two-person team from law firm Dickinson Wright to assist with the investigation, Hankwitz said.

Dickinson Wright “delivered the privileged and confidential report to my attention at the Senate Business Office on the afternoon of March 2, 2020,” Hankwitz wrote in his March 5 letter.

In a March 5 memo addressed to Shirkey and Ananich, Hankwitz summarized the investigative process and findings outlined in the March 2 report.

According to the memo, the investigative team conducted 35 in-person or phone interviews with 25 people, including parties to the complaints and identified witnesses, and reviewed evidence and supporting information, including text messages, video, diagrams and audio recordings.

Investigators attempted to reach all identified witnesses “with varying degrees of success,” and while all Senate employees and senators contacted agreed to be interviewed, some outside witnesses “declined to be interviewed or otherwise refused to participate in the investigation,” according to the memo.

The team compared interview notes for accuracy, discussed and resolved any discrepancies, and submitted their findings in the March 2 report, according to the memo.

The report concluded that none of the publicized complaints could be “unequivocally substantiated,” so investigators relied on the “credibility of interviewees, the examination of evidence, and the recreation of events to the best of their abilities” and found all of the accusers to be “credible.”

Due to the number of complaints and similarities among allegations, investigators concluded it is “more likely than not” that each incident took place as reported and that “Lucido’s conduct ‘demonstrates an unfortunate pattern of behavior’ that requires ‘little to no interpretation to be understood as inappropriate workplace behavior.’”

In his memo, Hankwitz deferred to Shirkey to “determine the appropriate action to be taken in accordance with Senate Policy EL 04(G)(2), which provides that appropriate disciplinary action against a senator is ‘at the discretion of the Senate majority leader.’”

On March 5, Shirkey issued a statement following the conclusion of the investigation and announced his decision to remove Lucido from the Michigan Senate Advice and Consent Committee and require Lucido to “participate in additional training.”

“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. We have a responsibility to be aware of how our words and actions are received, regardless of intent or interpretation.” Shirkey said in the statement. “We take accusations of inappropriate behavior in the workplace very seriously. 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.”

The statement continues to say that, in the coming weeks, the Senate will announce a “bipartisan work group comprised of senators and staff to review our current policies and offer possible suggestions for improvement.”

“Personally, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the individuals who participated in the investigation,” Shirkey said. “In the spirit of continuous improvement, their willingness to share their experiences has helped ensure a comprehensive and impartial process from which we will all benefit.”

On March 6, Lucido issued a statement in response to the investigation report.

“Throughout this process, I have maintained that I did not sexually harass anyone. The Senate Business Office and its outside counsel were charged with investigating whether I did. After their comprehensive and impartial investigation, they determined that the allegations made against me could not be unequivocally substantiated,” Lucido said. “Given that I have not sexually harassed anyone nor were there any citations of a violation of Senate rules determined by the investigation, I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the people I represent.”

According to Lucido’s Senate website, he is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, and he is a member of the Senate Elections and Oversight committees.

Lucido declined to comment further for this story. Shirkey and McMorrow did not respond to requests for comment by press time.