Michigan board censures GOP regent for 'witches' comment

LANSING (AP) - The University of Michigan's governing board has 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 Michigan Republican Party, said he took "full responsibility" for his "poorly chosen words" to activists but said he would not quit despite the board's call for his resignation.

Regents said they had no legal authority to remove Weiser because he was elected by the public. But they said he should step down because his "violent, sexist" language had endangered the lives of state and federal elected officials and brought the school negative attention.

Weiser, 75, sparked outrage recently 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.

A censure is a formal statement of disapproval. Six Democratic regents of the university - which has roughly 61,000 students across campuses in Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn - also voted to remove Weiser from his committee assignments. Weiser and the board's other Republican did not vote.

Weiser founded an Ann Arbor-based real estate company and is a major Republican donor and fundraiser. He and his wife have given more than $120 million to the school, ranking among its top 10 individual donors. He is a former U.S. ambassador to Slovakia.

The board also could later consider potentially removing the Weiser name from various campus structures - which include an academic building, athletic tunnel and club, and a center and an institute.


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