Bolger Apologizes for Photo, Dems Want More
The Republican leader of the Michigan House of Representatives may have apologized Friday for the actions of three of his colleagues, but some Democrats say it isn't enough.
"They can't afford to slip up like this," said Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum (D). "They represent a district in the state of Michigan. They represent girls, women, boys and men. This slip up is unacceptable. They need to be representative of the office and all of the wonderful individuals that live in our state."
Republican Reps. Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville), Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) and Ben Glardon (R-Owosso) posed for a photo Thursday holding women's magazines. The magazines were given to them by fellow Republican Rep. Gail Haines (R-Clarkston), according to MLive. Pettalia then made an off the cuff remark, saying "Don't say we don't care about women."
A reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network tweeted the photo and the statement, which has since drawn sharp criticism from Democrats.
"Turning the House floor into a frat house party is precisely the sort of thing that makes people ashamed of their Representatives," said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair in a statement. "Rather than posing with glossy magazines to mock women and their concerns, Republican politicians Pettalia, Victory and Glardon should apologize for their out of touch Republican agenda that threatens women's access to health care, and denies women equal pay for their hard work."
Other Democrats called for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land to come down harder on the party.
"They thought something like that was funny," Byrum said. "It is not funny, but what it does is point to the fact that they don't understand women. They don't understand that we want to make the same amount of money as our male counterparts for the exact same job. We want access to healthcare. We want to be treated equally."
Republicans shot back Friday, blaming Democrats for starting a firefight over something that shouldn't be an issue.
"I am tired of Democrats seeking to make victims out of women," said Rep. Andrea LaFontaine (R-Columbus Township). "I also am tired of Democrats screaming about a 'war on women' because such political antics are demeaning to the women who serve our country in the military. Those women are actually fighting a real war for our freedom while the Democrats continue to trivialize the war for political gain. "
A spokeswoman for Bolger said the intent of the photo was not to be offensive and that a small moment in a long, busy day of session was taken out of context.
"It's not newsworthy, we don't think," said Anna Heaton, Bolger's deputy press secretary. "What's newsworthy is that we're balancing a budget early for a fourth year in a row, we need to fix the roads. We're working on stuff everyday to help women and that just doesn't always make the cut as to what's on Facebook and Twitter."
Heaton points to two bills recently passed to prevent women from being cited for indecent exposure when breastfeeding -- just a portion of what she calls "mommy-friendly legislation" the GOP has pushed.
It was a similar message -- though more conciliatory -- from Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto).
"As Republicans we are absolutely kidding ourselves if we don't believe that we have a real problem connecting and communicating with women," she said in a statement. "That being said, the lighthearted moment on the House floor today should not serve as a Democrat distraction from the fact that Michigan Republicans are leading the way on the issues real women care about: more jobs, better roads, and having quality education for our kids."
To date, none of the representatives in the photo have apologized.