State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, was stripped of his committee assignments Wednesday after Rep. Mari Manoogian, D-Birmingham, said he committed an act of domestic abuse against her.
“The unfortunate reality is that many people in our society have experienced domestic abuse, which often comes from someone we would never expect,” Manoogian said in a statement released with House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township.
“None of us are immune to a volatile relationship, regardless of our career. It can happen right here in our legislature, where abuse of power and threats to ruin a colleague’s reputation, as well as threats of public shaming, can be used to intimidate fellow members of the legislature,” Manoogian said.
Both Marino and Manoogian attended Michigan State University. Manoogian, who was enrolled at MSU's James Madison College, asked for privacy as she takes steps to ensure her safety.
“I will always put the safety of our members first," Lasinski said in the statement. "I stand by Rep. Manoogian and her request for privacy. Our caucus is acutely aware of the challenges that come with being a female elected official and will not tolerate any threats of abuse, retribution and public embarrassment that are used to intimidate women.”
Marino himself also released a statement on Thursday.
He wrote, "I had a relationship that ended well over a year ago with Representative Amara [Mari] Manoogian. She served on a committee that I chaired. I regret the fact that I went along with her request to not disclose the prior relationship to the Speaker."
Marino continued, "However, I will be clear: the insinuations made are nothing more than politically motivated character assassination that I am confident will conclude as a waste of the public's time. I look forward to fulfilling my duties and maintaining the trust I've worked so hard to build during my seven years in public office."
Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, who is responsible for the removal of members from committee assignment, also issued a statement.
“I will always prioritize the safety of state legislators and those who are serving their community at the state Capitol,” he wrote. “Once I learned of this situation, I took immediate action.”
Wentworth also said the Michigan House of Representatives will assist in police investigations to ensure Manoogian’s safety throughout the process.
Other Democratic politicians were quick to support Manoogian. MSU graduate and Rep. Christine Morse, D-Kalamazoo, said via Tweet, “This is a hard thing to do. Sending support to my friend and colleague.”
State Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, another MSU graduate, said in a Tweet, “Sending love to my friend @MariManoogian.”
Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson also dedicated a Tweet to “@MariMonoogian love and appreciation.”
Rep. Marino is the third Michigan Representative in nine months who has been removed from committee assignments. Late last year, Rep. Cynthia Johnson, D-Detroit, was removed after telling Trump supporters to “watch out” and directing her supporters to “make them pay” after she received numerous death threats.
Just five days later, Rep. Gary Eisen, R-St. Clair Township, was removed from his committee assignments after an appearance on a radio show the morning of Michigan’s Electoral College vote. When asked if he could assure the host that it would be a safe day in Lansing and that nobody would be hurt, Eisen said he couldn't, and what they were doing was “uncharted.”
This story was updated to include a statement from Rep. Steve Marino.
This is a developing story. Stay with The State News for more updates.
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