(FOX 17/WXYZ) — The University of Michigan Board of Regents held a special virtual meeting on Friday morning, voting to encourage member Ron Weiser to resign after controversial comments made at a GOP dinner.
Weiser, the Michigan GOP chair, made the comments last month which some found to be sexist and incite violence against officials. He's since apologized, but there is public outcry calling for his resignation.
During a speech, Weiser called Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, AG Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson "three witches" that the GOP needs to defeat in 2022.
Weiser also stated voting or assassination was the only way to remove two current Republican congressmen who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump – Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer.
“I take full responsibility for what I said and I am sorry and regret my poorly chosen words that were off-hand remarks made at a private republican party meeting,” Weiser said at the beginning of the meeting.
He went on to say, “I agree with part of this resolution, but I will not resign. 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.”
Weiser immediately signed off after his statement, leaving the other board members to read their comments to each other for the rest of the nearly 40 minute meeting.
Vice Chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, Jordan Acker said in the meeting, “If any one us at the university fan the flames of hate and division, that is a betrayal of our work and everything the University of Michigan stands for.”
In a one-on-one interview with FOX 17 after that board meeting, Acker said, "This is sort of violent, sexist, dehumanizing language has no place in our politics, period.”
Acker went on to note, the fact that Weiser didn’t stick around for their meeting shows he’s not truly sorry.
“I don’t believe in cancel culture, I believe that everybody deserves respect and everyone deserves the ability to atone for what they did wrong. It’s actually the most American thing we have; is learning to apologize and accept apologies, but accepting an apology and really being sorry doesn’t call for you to say ‘I’m sorry, goodbye’, it requires you to hear from the people that you hurt, and to really show why what you did was wrong, and to work to fix it with those communities,” Acker said.
Michigan GOP Communications Director, Ted Goodman spoke with FOX 17 in the wake of Friday’s meeting, saying that Weiser has sincerely apologized and will not be leaving his post.
“He expressed that he could’ve used some different words, he has said he’s sorry for anyone that he’s hurt with that language,” Goodman said, “He loves the University of Michigan and has done so much to support it. It’s just really unfortunate to see other members - some members on the board - turn this into some sort of personal political gain.”
As far as “attacking” Congressmen Rep. Peter Meijer and Rep. Fred Upton in his comments, Goodman said those were taken out of context.
“He was making it very clear that in this country, in the United States of America, where we value democracy, and each individual‘s voice, the way to make change is through a primary process,” Goodman said, “”He was pointing out that here in this country, the only way that we change up leadership if you’re not happy with your elected officials, is to vote them out and that’s the point he was making.”
The board voting 5-0-1 encouraging resignation, but because they can’t legally remove Weiser from office, he will have to step back on his own, if at all.
Acker said, “Regent Weiser should go back and do some really hard thinking and the thinking is: ‘What do I love more? My pride and ego? Or do I love the University of Michigan?’ And I think if Regent Weiser does that and he finds that he loves the university the most, he will do the right thing and resign himself.”
He's served on the board since 2016.
Board President Denise Ilitch then removed Weiser from his positions on the finance committee and UM Dearborn committee.
The remarks drew condemnation from Whitmer and others. Weiser also released a statement after, but stopped short of an apology at the time. He then later issued a statement apologizing.
His new statement reads as follows:
In an increasingly vitriolic political environment, we should all do better to treat each other with respect, myself included. I fell short of that the other night. I apologize to those I offended for the flippant analogy about three women who are elected officials and for the off-hand comments about two other leaders. I have never advocated for violence and never will. While I will always fight for the people and policies I believe in, I pledge to be part of a respectful political dialogue going forward.
Chairman Ron Weiser