LANSING (WWJ) - A Michigan state senator is taking some heat for comments he allegedly made to a young female reporter at the state Capitol.
Senator Pete Lucido, a 59-year-old Republican from Macomb County's Shelby Township, was hosting a group of students from his alma mater, Warren De La Salle High School, in Lansing when a reporter asked him for a comment for a story regarding his apparent involvement with a "violent, anti-Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Facebook group," which has since been deleted.
When reporter Allison Donahue approached the senator to ask about the story, Lucido asked her if she had heard of the all-boys school, to which she replied she had not.
That's when he allegedly responded: "You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you."
Donahue, said she felt objectified and was humiliated in front of a group of boys, who burst into laughter.
"I walked away knowing that I had been the punchline of their 'locker room' talk. Except it wasn't the locker room; it was the Senate chamber. And this isn’t high school. It’s my career," the 22-year-old reporter wrote in an article for Michigan Advance. "The situation made me embarrassed, it made me feel small."
Donahue said she waited around to speak to Lucido about his comments but he cut her off, saying "it was nothing personal and this is just how he talks to young women."
"Maybe he truly means that he never intended to cause harm with his comments, but that doesn’t excuse how we normalize this behavior from men in power," she said. "It's time to hold powerful men accountable for saying sexist things to young women."
Lucido didn't deny that he made the comments, but he told reporters that his words were taken out of context and out of proportion. After initially saying he didn't think he owes the reporter an apology, Lucido said he was sorry in a statement.
"I apologize for the misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue," he said Wednesday.
Now there are several senators calling for an investigation into Lucido's behavior, as Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Democrat and Republican Majority Leader Mike Shirkey asked the Senate Business Office to look into the situation.
Ananich called Lucido "a pathetic creep."
"His statement is basically saying, 'hey, I'm a creep. You should change your behavior, I'm not going to change mine. I'm a creepy old man, you're a reporter and I'm sorry you didn't understand that I'm just a jerk," Ananich told WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick.
Ananich emphasized the fact that Lucido made the comments in front of young schoolboys.
"He had an opportunity -- he had teenage boys there visting the capital. Their motto is 'building boys, making men.' I'm assuming they walked out of there instead of seeing what a senator is supposed to look like, they saw a pathetic creep," he said.
"A one-time incident means you made a mistake. If you make it over and over again... he's participating in Facebook pages that are calling for violence against the governor, other folks. He's done this before in committee, he's done this with other senators. It's just pathetic. It's just really pathetic."
Ananich says "we will see what happens" with the investigation, but noted "there is nothing in the Constitution nationally or state level that says you can't elect a jerk."
Donahue said the situation should serve as a reminder that if you speak up and hold people accountable, others will be there to lend support.