Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) was caught on tape making cracks about physical violence against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), who last year was the target of a kidnapping plot by right-wing militia extremists.
He was also recorded spreading lies about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that was carried out by pro-Trump insurrectionists, calling it a “hoax” and “staged.”
In the footage made by Republican activists, Shirkey bragged about metaphorically spanking the governor.
“We’ve spanked her hard on the budget,” he said in the video posted on YouTube. “Spanked her hard on appointments.”
At another point, Shirkey said: “I did contemplate, once or twice, I did contemplate inviting her to a fistfight on the Capitol lawn.”
The loaded language against Whitmer was uttered just a week after one of six Michigan men accused of plotting to kidnap the governor pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Most of the men charged in the plot have ties to right-wing militias, but Shirkey said those organizations were getting “a bad rap.” Last year, he met with leaders of a militia to help them with their messaging, according to the Michigan Advance.
Shirkey issued a vaguely worded apology to the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday as word of the recording spread on social media:
“I have many flaws. Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them. I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.”
Shirkey visited the White House in November at Trump’s invitation. Trump had claimed, repeatedly and without evidence, that he won Michigan. Although Shirkey left the meeting saying he hadn’t received any information that would change the outcome of the election, he did seem to buy into other right-wing conspiracy theories. In the new video, Shirkey said the D.C. riot was “a hoax from day one.”
“That wasn’t Trump people,” Shirkey said.
It was Trump people, and Trump himself is currently being impeached for his role in inciting the violence.
Whitmer’s spokesperson called out Shirkey.
“It’s disappointing that Sen. Shirkey is spending his time on political potshots, indulging conspiracy theories and expressing empathy for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building,” Bobby Leddy told the Free Press.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.