Michigan GOP Legislator Held Without Bond In Strip Club Sexual Assault

Neil Friske

State Rep. Neil Friske

Neil Friske

Michigan State Rep. Neil Friske, who is a freshman Republican lawmaker representing a rural district in the northern part of the state, is now being held without bond, and potentially faces three felony charges.

The Washington Post reported that Friske was arrested at approximately 3 AM Eastern Time on Thursday morning, following a "late-night incident" involving a man with a gun chasing a woman, and potentially shots fired. While Friske hasn't yet been formally charged, police are reportedly requesting that prosecutors file charges of sexual assault, along with a separate assault charge and a gun charge.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Friske's campaign appeared to not dispute that the lawmaker was armed, saying that he "is always exercising his 2nd Amendment right." But the statement also suggested that the arrest was politically motivated, given that absentee ballots are about to be released and the fact that a pollster using an unknown number with "deep state ties" was calling district residents. It's unclear if the campaign's allegations of the pollster having "deep state ties" is in relation to Friske's Republican primary opponent, or his competition on the other side of the aisle.

Parker Fairbairn is running against Friske in Michigan's August 6 primary. The Post reported that while Fairbairn insisted his opponent was innocent until proven guilty in court, he also said the lawmaker's record in the statehouse was "abysmal and immoral."

"Neil deserves his time in court, and the people of the 107th [house district] deserve better than Neil, Fairbairn said.

The Democratic response was even more pointed. State representative Phil Skaggs (D) tweeted about the incident from his X (formerly Twitter) account that his colleague should "look to his conscience and do the right thing."

"There is no place in our legislature for someone who engages in such reprehensible behavior. Elected officials cannot be free from consequences when they behave in violent and harmful ways," Skaggs wrote. "If these allegations are true, Friske should resign from the Michigan House immediately."

Friske was first elected in 2022, with Ballotpedia reporting that he defeated his Democratic opponent, Jodi Decker, by more than 6,000 votes out of over 47,000 ballots cast. Decker is running unopposed in the 2024 primary, meaning she'll face off against Friske if he survives Fairbairn's attempt to primary him.

As a member of the Michigan House Freedom Caucus, Friske is one of the most conservative members of the lower chamber of the Mitten State's legislature. He's previously sponsored unsuccessful bills to implement stricter immigration regulations and curtail abortion rights. One of Friske's failed bills would have banned the use of prescription medication for abortions.

The 107th House district is rural and solidly Republican, representing parts of Cheboygan, Chippewa and Mackinac, and the entire counties of Charlevoix and Emmet. It's been in GOP control since 2011. Before Friske, the district was represented by Rep. John Damoose, and Lee Chatfield before him. Earlier this year, Chatfield — who was speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives between 2019 and 2021 — was charged with multiple felony crimes, including embezzlement and conducting a criminal enterprise.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}