#1 Lawmaker from Detroit sues Whitmer, fellow Democrats over censure after she met with President Trump by ThirstyMan 22.05.2020 04:18

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By Matt Durr, May 21, 2020

State Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and several fellow Democrats, claiming violations of free speech and defamation.



Specifically, Whitsett claimed Whitmer and the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization sought to deprive her of her right to engage in protected speech after she publicly thanked President Donald Trump for his suggestion of using the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat her coronavirus case.

Whitsett contracted the virus in March and has been open about her appreciation for the president’s suggestion, which she says saved her life. While it remains unproven that hydroxychloroquine can effectively treat COVID-19, it is used to prevent malaria and to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and complications of Lyme disease. Whitsett suffers from Lyme disease, and was aware hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat that disease, but didn’t know until the president mentioned it that it was being testing for use against COVID-19.

As a result, Whitsett was invited to The White House to meet with Trump on April 14. During that meeting, she again thanked Trump for the suggestion and said her condition went “from 0 to 100” after she began taking the drug.

Following that meeting, Whitsett began receiving criticism for her public statements and was eventually censured by the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization. The organization took exception to her comments on the drug and the outbreak, saying they painted a picture that isn’t true and spreads misinformation.

Chris McClain, a precinct delegate for the organization who wrote the censure resolution, explained the decision to MLive last month, prior to censure vote.

“Her individual circumstance does not apply to everyone," McClain said. “She misrepresented a lot of the priorities and needs here of the community when she went to go meet with the president.”

McClain, who is not named in the lawsuit went on to say: “Our leaders have a platform and they shouldn’t use that platform to spread misinformation or play with the health and safety of the people that live here.”

More than 10,000 Detroiters have tested positive for COVID-19.

"You’re entitled to your opinion, I’m just disappointed you’d take your theories public without seeking to get answers first. Take care,” Whitmer is accused of saying via text.

Whitsett and her attorneys Norman Yatooma and Christine L. Constantino, Jr. claim the political organization worked to silence her free speech. At Whitmer’s prompting, the lawsuit alleges, the organization passed the resolution that bars Whitsett from holding any position or committee membership within the group. The censure also meant the organization would not endorse her in future elections, the lawsuit says.

As a result of the censure, Whitsett says she has been “ousted” by the party, and the defendants continue to hinder her ability to do her job. An example, the lawsuit claims Whitsett arranged for 388,680 meals to be delivered to her constituents in Detroit, and the defendants refused to allow her the help of the Michigan Army National Guard to distribute the meals as previously arranged.

Jonathan Kinloch, the chair of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Organization said he had not been served with the lawsuit and had yet to read it when reached for comment.

“It’s probably full of banter and bullcrap," Kinloch said.

Despite having not read the lawsuit, Kinloch said the organization did nothing wrong and the legal action is an attempt by Whitsett to grab media attention. Whitsett had the opportunity to appeal the resolution of censure, but she did not do so, according to Kinloch. Moving forward, he says the organization simply wants Whitsett to declare her true intentions.

“The core question is, does she intend on operating as a Republican while she was elected as a Democrat?” Kinloch asked.

“She has shown herself not to remain interested in being a Democrat. Maybe she should consider the suggestion from President Donald J Trump, to become a Republican," Kinloch said. “If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, then it’s a Republican duck.”

Coincidentally, Whitsett was one of President Trump’s guests during his tour of the Ford Rawsonvile plant Thursday.

The lawsuit goes on to say Whitsett was defamed by the political organization because the censure resolution said Whitsett “Breached protocol in separately arranging meetings with and advocating to the President of the United States, Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Richard Pence, in place of Michigan’s duly elected Democratic leadership and Chief Executive Officer.”

Whitsett says she did not arrange for any meeting with the White House. She was invited to the meeting and did not seek it out on her own.

The organization also accused Whitsett of: “'Endangering the health, safety, and welfare of her constituents, the City of Detroit, and the State of Michigan’ by appearing at a meeting with the President of the United States of America to discuss her experience with the COVID-19 virus and subsequent treatment."

Those statements from the organization were distributed to Democratic leadership throughout the state, according to the lawsuit.

The suit accuses Whitmer of being aware of a conspiracy to publicly shame, defame and humiliate Whitsett. Whitmer did not try to stop the scheme and actually prompted it, making her liable for damages, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money for damages, reimbursement for all court fees, lawyers fees and other costs related to the case and any further relief the court deems appropriate.

A spokesperson for Whitmer declined comment, saying the governor doesn’t speak on pending litigation.

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https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/20...dent-trump.html

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