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Speaker Tate strips Schriver of staff, funds and committee post over ‘racist rhetoric’

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Speaker Tate strips Schriver of staff, funds and committee post over ‘racist rhetoric’

Feb 12, 2024 | 1:29 pm ET
By Jon King
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Speaker Tate strips Schriver of staff, funds and committee post over ‘racist rhetoric’
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Rep. Josh Schriver | House Republicans photo

A state lawmaker whose boosting of a racist conspiracy theory drew the rebuke of fellow legislators, as well as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, has been stripped of his office staff, funds and committee assignment.

In a release issued Monday morning, Michigan House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit) said he was taking action against state Rep. Josh Schriver (R-Oxford) for his “sustained campaign of racist rhetoric and hate speech” posted on social media.

Speaker Tate strips Schriver of staff, funds and committee post over ‘racist rhetoric’
House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit), Feb. 15, 2023 | Laina G. Stebbins

“I will not allow the Michigan House of Representatives to be a forum for the proliferation of racist, hateful and bigoted speech,” said Tate in a statement. “Representative Schriver has a history of promoting debunked theories and dangerous rhetoric that jeopardizes the safety of Michigan residents and contributes to a hostile and uncomfortable environment for others. The House of Representatives is the people’s house, and all Michiganders should look upon this body and take pride in how we conduct ourselves. It is also a workplace, and I have a responsibility to make sure the employees of the House feel safe and secure.” 

The action follows Schriver’s posting last Tuesday on X of a graphic of the “Great Replacement” theory, which states that a conspiracy is targeting white Americans and Europeans to be “replaced” by non-white populations, often through immigration or interracial relationships. 

It has become a prominent talking point among far-right white nationalists and has often been cited by the perpetrators of mass violence, including the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shootings that killed 11 Jewish worshipers, the 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that killed 23 people, almost all of them Hispanic, and the 2022 mass shooting in a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., which targeted Black patrons and killed 10 people.

Schriver responded to the initial criticism from Democrats like state Rep. Kelly Breen of Novi and state Rep. Noah Arbit of West Bloomfield, by doubling-down on his support of the theory, prompting public rebukes from Tate, and eventually even Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist

Tate said as a result of Schriver’s actions, he will withhold his office allotment and reassign the representative’s staff, and will remove him from the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation Committee, Schriver’s lone committee assignment.

Tate added the resources typically made available to a representative will instead be held by the House Business Office.  

“Such resources are provided at the discretion and pleasure of the Speaker. Schriver will fulfill his responsibility as a representative through his ability to cast a vote in the House of Representatives,” said Tate.

Requests for comment have been made to Schriver, as well as the office of House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Richland Twp.), but have yet to be returned.

However, Schriver did post later on Monday a response to the sanctions on his X account.

“I don’t think retweeting  (the Great Replacement graphic) was racist,” he said. “Especially since I’m not (and never have been) a racist. So I cannot offer a fake political apology for views I don’t hold. I’m a Child of God. I’m a Christian. Humans of all races are united under a universal invitation to salvation by Jesus Christ. Anyone hurt by his tweet, please don’t be!”

The last time a member of the Michigan House was subject to these kinds of penalties was in 2019, when then-state Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) was indicted on charges of attempted extortion, bribery and lying to an FBI in connection to his vote on the state’s prevailing wage law. He also was stripped of his committee assignments, had his staff reassigned and office funds returned on order of then-House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering). 

Speaker Tate strips Schriver of staff, funds and committee post over ‘racist rhetoric’
Rep. Larry Inman after his trial, Dec. 10, 2019 | Nick Manes

While Inman was later acquitted of lying to the FBI, a mistrial was declared on the other charges, although he remained exiled from his caucus and left office at the end of 2020 after his term expired. 

A jury exonerated him on the remaining corruption charges just last month.

Republicans, including state Rep. Donni Steele (R-Orion Twp.) and state Sen. John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs), also condemned Schriver.

Steele said “people have a moral obligation to speak out against hate whenever it rears its ugly head,” and that Schriver’s comments were hateful rhetoric that “goes against everything I believe and distracts from the positive work we’re trying to accomplish for the people of Michigan.”

Damoose, in a Facebook post over the weekend, said he was “sad” to say that Schriver was a state representative who claims to be a member of the Republican Party.

“But, let us be clear, his sickening words have nothing to do with the ideals we claim to uphold as Americans or conservatives,” he said, 

Damoose added that while he rejected “today’s so called ‘woke’ culture that has pitted people against each other,” he said the “country has a terrible history when it comes to racism,” and that “based on this fundamental understanding and the recognition that racism is a grievous sin,” he condemned “in the harshest of terms,” the words Schriver promoted and the “offensive” idea of the Great Replacement.

Speaker Tate strips Schriver of staff, funds and committee post over ‘racist rhetoric’
Rep. John Damoose, Jan. 12, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

“It’s time [that] we as Republicans take the lead in this issue – as we did in the earliest days of our party under the great Abraham Lincoln, our founder,” he said.

But there was pushback by other GOP members to the criticism offered by Damoose, like from state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) commented on the senator’s Facebook post by asking, “did you put this much time and energy into publicly denouncing the democrat’s [sic] racist budget last year?”