Lansing — House Speaker Joe Tate on Monday stripped an Oakland County Republican lawmaker of his office staff and budget and committee assignment for sharing a racist population conspiracy theory on social media.
Tate’s office said GOP state Rep. Josh Schriver of Oxford will still be able to vote on the House floor but his service on committees and access to office resources is subject to the “discretion and pleasure” of Tate, D-Detroit. Under House rules, the speaker controls the allocation of staff and money for each representative’s individual office.
The speaker’s punishment came about a week after Schriver, a first-term lawmaker, reposted a social media post about the “great replacement” theory, a theory that there’s a coordinated global effort to diminish the influence of White people.
Tate revoked Schriver’s privileges Monday, arguing he would not allow the House “to be a forum for the proliferation of racist, hateful and bigoted speech.
“Rep. Schriver has a history of promoting debunked theories and dangerous rhetoric that jeopardizes the safety of Michigan residents and contributes to a hostile and uncomfortable environment for others,” Tate said in a statement Monday. “The House of Representatives is the people’s house, and all Michiganders should look upon this body and take pride in how we conduct ourselves. It is also a workplace, and I have a responsibility to make sure the employees of the House feel safe and secure.”
Schriver previously had been assigned to the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee. He had one staff member, who will be reassigned, and an annual office budget of about $132,000, according to Tate’s office. Schriver did not respond to multiple messages Monday seeking comment about Tate’s punishment.
While some Republican lawmakers condemned Schriver’s post, House Republican Leader Matt Hall has stayed silent on the issue. Hall and his spokesman did not respond Monday to messages seeking comment.
Republican state Rep. Matt Maddock of Milford came to Schriver’s defense Monday, calling him a “great man without a racist bone in his body” who would emerge stronger from the “woke” leadership’s punishment.
Maddock argued Schriver’s actions paled in comparison to recent voting district maps that were ruled a racial gerrymander and ordered redrawn by federal judges. The panel that drew the maps had argued, in part, that the need to give Democrats more seats and achieve better partisan fairness had led to the drawing of districts with fewer Black people; Black Detroiters suing over the maps argued the group put partisanship ahead of Black representation.
“Josh Schriver could have gerrymandered a dozen Black Dems out of office and been praised,” Maddock said. “Instead, he retweeted a meme and he’s a pariah. This is all just left-wing passion plays to hang the scarlet ‘R’ around Josh. It’s obscene.”
The last lawmaker to be stripped of both committee assignments and office resources was GOP state Rep. Larry Inman after he, in 2019, was indicted on bribery charges that alleged he attempted to sell his vote on a prevailing wage law repeal. Inman also was kicked out of the House Republican caucus that year. He was acquitted last month of attempted extortion and soliciting a bribe.
In late 2020, Democratic then-Rep. Cynthia Johnson of Detroit lost her committee assignments briefly because of language she used responding to threats from supporters of then President Donald Trump. Democratic Rep. Jewell Jones of Inkster lost his committee assignments in 2021 after being convicted of drunken driving and assaulting a police officer. Neither Johnson nor Jones lost access to office resources.
Posts spark anger
On Feb. 6, Schriver shared a post of a graphic that depicted black figurines covering most of a map of the world, with white figures occupying smaller sections of Australia, Canada, northern Europe and the northern United States. The bottom of the graphic read “The great replacement!”
The graphic, initially posted by right-wing pundit Jack Posobiec, was reposted by Schriver with an emoji of a chart showing a downward trend on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Schriver told The Detroit News at the time that he loved “all of God’s offspring.”
“I’m opposed to racists, race baiters, and victim politics,” Schriver said in the statement. “What I find strange is the agenda to demoralize and reduce the white portion of our population. That’s not inclusive and Christ is inclusive! I’m glad Tucker Carlson and Jack Posobiec are sharing links so I can continue my research on these issues.”
The “great replacement” conspiracy theory asserts there is a coordinated effort to dilute the influence of White people through immigration and through low birth rates among White individuals, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The theory has been linked to anti-Semitism, with some versions alleging it is Jews coordinating the so-called replacement.
It has been referenced, in varying degrees, by shooters in several mass shootings, such as a shooting of 10 people, including several Black individuals, in Buffalo New York in 2022; in the 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh; in a 2019 synagogue shooting in Poway, California; and in a 2019 shooting at an El Paso Walmart.
In the days since his comments were reported, Schriver has posted on X repeatedly on the topic, calling criticism of his post “an anti-white agenda” and accusing media of attempting “to start a race war.”
He also indicated Tate was “being forced to politically attack me now.”
Schriver also posted “Do the Democrats know that Joe Biden is … White?” and then “Heck, does Joe Biden know that he is white?”
Tate condemned Schriver’s initial post on the “great replacement” theory last week, but had refrained from taking action against the lawmaker. It appears Schriver’s subsequent posts on the issue may have caused the speaker to change course.
Dems, Republicans react to comments
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin, both Democrats, condemned the posts Friday and called out Republican leadership for not condemning the rhetoric.
“It is a failure of leadership for this kind of action to take place unchecked by the leaders of Rep. Schriver’s caucus, and the longer there is no action taken, the more responsibility leadership bears,” Whitmer said.
At least two Republican lawmakers publicly spoke out against Schriver’s comments.
Rep. Donni Steele, R-Orion Township, said lawmakers are held to a higher standard and must speak out “against hate whenever it rears its ugly head.”
“Hateful rhetoric goes against everything I believe and distracts from the positive work we’re trying to accomplish for the people of Michigan,” Steele said in a statement.
Sen. John Damoose, R-Harbor Springs, said he read the lawmaker’s statement with “great horror” and argued they had nothing to do with conservative or American ideals.
“Such ideas truly have no place in our politics or our culture,” Damoose said on social media. “By now, our nation should know better.
“And by now, we Republicans should know that anything other than a swift and strong rebuke of such filth undermines everything we say, everything we believe and everything we are trying to accomplish in terms of rebuilding the ‘shining city on a hill’ to which we point so often.”