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University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser (R) has sent emails to his fellow regents during the last year comparing the board’s silence in the face of recent calls for his resignation to “Germany in the 1930’s,” calling graduate student protesters “hired union hacks” and one containing only a picture of a bikini-clad woman.
The emails, obtained by The Michigan Daily, were first reported by WDET.
Some in the U-M community demanded Weiser’s resignation following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol because they thought he inadequately addressed the incident. Weiser called on the board to support him in a Jan. 17 email to the Board of Regents, U-M President Mark Schlissel and U-M Secretary Sally Churchill.
“Their issues are not about anything I have done or said only about being a Republican Leader and not saying exactly what they want me to say (it varies with some of them actually saying I’m anti-Semitic),” Weiser wrote. “It might be nice if part or all of my fellow Board Members say something about my service or largess to the University. Silence has historical consequences. Remember Germany in the 1930’s.”
None of the regents have followed through on Weiser’s request to comment publicly on the matter.
When asked by The Daily in a previous interview about the calls for Weiser’s resignation, Schlissel said questions about Weiser’s political associations and activities within the Republican Party are questions for Weiser, not the University, to answer. He pointed out regents are accountable to the public through statewide popular vote every eight years.
“I think that the many faculty and students in the community and others that have objections are raising those objections, they’re getting lots of coverage in the media, and those fall into the political process,” Schlissel said. “It’ll have to be worked out, but I can say that the University itself, as well as all the regents, unambiguously condemn the violence and those that incited the violence. That’s not a matter of question.”
Weiser has sent other questionable emails to the U-M administration. In an April email to the board, Weiser relayed an anecdote from his wife about a Graduate Employees’ Organization car demonstration outside the Weiser residence during bargaining with the University at the time.
“I suspect these are hired union hacks,” Weiser’s email reads. “The lead person truly has no idea of U governance, he was sure the U was a for profit business. While he was cleanly dressed it was impossible to imagine him in a classroom. Janitor maybe from the mental content.”
Additionally, on May 1, 2020, Weiser sent an email to the regents containing only a selfie of a woman in sunglasses and a bikini top laying on a towel. The subject of the email is “BB.” The Daily is not publishing the photo as it is unable to verify the woman’s identity and to protect her privacy.
The University’s Office of Public Affairs declined to comment on Weiser’s emails.
Weiser, incoming co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, faced criticism from some in the University community after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. More than 150 U-M professors signed onto a request that Weiser resign, arguing that attempts by members of the Michigan GOP to overturn the 2020 presidential election by perpetuating lies about voter fraud make his role as regent and head of the state party incompatible.
“These events are not an aberration but the inevitable end result of positions the MI-GOP has openly endorsed or tacitly tolerated, with your consent and support,” the request reads. “As Trump’s Michigan campaign chair, you directly contributed to the rise of a politician who, as President of the United States, incited a mob to storm the nation’s Capitol with the express aim of preventing the certification of a democratic election.”
Weiser has repeatedly condemned the violence at the Capitol and said it is time for Republicans to move on from the 2020 election. His incoming co-chair, Meshawn Maddock, organized buses of Michigan supporters of former President Donald Trump to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 6 “stop the steal” rally that turned into an insurrection.
Maddock retweeted a video of Trump supporters marching to the Capitol that afternoon with the caption: “The most incredible crowd and sea of people I’ve ever walked with (heart emoji).”
Weiser told Bridge Michigan on Jan. 7 that Maddock did not incite the riot. He said he did not know if Trump bore any blame.
“I didn’t read any of that stuff, and I didn't watch television,” Weiser told Bridge. “I watched Michigan destroy Minnesota in basketball, and that kind of contest is something that I strongly support."
Weiser has not mentioned Trump or anyone else as holding responsibility in his statements.
“To move forward as a party, we must acknowledge our mistakes and never let them happen again,” Weiser tweeted on Jan. 9. “Let me be clear, the events in our nation’s Capital this week were both incredibly tragic and wrong. People were misled. And that resulted in death and destruction. That is unacceptable and abhorrent.”
Weiser did not respond to a request to comment for this story. Regents Katherine White (D), Michael Behm (D), Denise Ilitch (D), Mark Bernstein (D) did not respond to requests for comment. Regents Jordan Acker (D) and Sarah Hubbard (R) declined to comment. Regent Paul Brown (D) declined to comment on specific emails, but said Weiser is an “exceptional” regent.
“Although our political views differ greatly, I know that he always has the best interest of the University at heart,” Brown wrote. “I would also hope that we live in a world that would excuse me, or anyone else, who inadvertently sends a personal email. Additionally, I know the board has actual important things to worry about.”
Daily News Editor Calder Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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