Michigan board censures GOP regent for 'witches' comment

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan’s governing board on Friday censured a Republican regent who called the state’s female Democratic leaders “witches” whom the GOP would prepare for a “burning at the stake” in the 2022 election.

Ron Weiser, who chairs the state Republican Party, said he took “full responsibility” for his comments to activists but said he would not quit despite the board’s call for his resignation.

“I pledge to be part of a respectful dialogue going forward and challenge my colleagues and others to do the same. I will not be canceled,” he said during a virtual meeting.

Weiser sparked outrage last month when he referred to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, state Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as “witches” multiple times. Also, he joked about “assassination” when pressed by crowd members who were angry that two GOP congressman voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump over the deadly Capitol riot.

“Ma’am, other than assassination, I have no other way other than voting out,” he said March 25. “OK? You people have to go out there and support their opponents.”

A censure is a formal statement of disapproval. Regents of the university — which has campuses in Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn — also voted to remove Weiser from committees.

Weiser and his wife have given more than $120 million to the school, ranking among its top 10 individual donors.

Regent Jordan Acker, a Democrat, said Weiser “fanned the flames of hate and division” and noted the governor was the target of an alleged kidnapping plot by antigovernment extremists. He said Weiser’s comments were “no accident” and not, as Weiser said, offhand.

“Accountability is not cancellation,” Acker said.