A Michigan senator landed in hot water after allegedly remarking to a female reporter that a group of high school boys visiting the state capitol could "have a lot of fun" with her.
Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue on Tuesday was attempting to ask Republican Sen. Peter Lucido for comment on a story she was writing when he made the disparaging remarks, the Advance reports.
At one point during the interview, the senator, who was standing with a group of male students from De La Salle Collegiate, an all-boys Catholic high school, allegedly told the 22-year-old reporter, "You've heard of De La Salle, right?"
When Donahue said she had not, 59-year-old Lucido allegedly replied, "It's an all-boys' school. You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you."
Donahue claimed the teens "burst into an Old Boys' Network-type of laughter" in a first-person account she penned for the Michigan Advocate.
"I walked away knowing that I had been the punchline of their 'locker room' talk," she said. "Except it wasn’t the locker room; it was the Senate chamber. And this isn’t high school. It’s my career."
Lucido's alleged comments set off a wave of backlash and prompted Michigan State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich to call for a formal sexual harassment investigation.
"That’s not how we’re supposed to act as senators; that’s not how we’re supposed to act as men, as leaders in this state, this country, this community," Ananich told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he believed Lucido's comments were "disgusting."
On Wednesday morning, Lucido issued a brief apology on Twitter, calling the incident a "misunderstanding."
"I apologize for the misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue," he wrote.
I apologize for the misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue.
— Sen. Peter J. Lucido (@SenPeterJLucido) January 15, 2020
However, on Wednesday night, the senator reversed his position, instead claiming Donahue had mischaracterized what he said Tuesday afternoon.
"I said, 'We're going on the floor to have some fun, you're welcome to join us," he claimed in a statement to WILX. "This thing about what she interpreted sexually or otherwise, it's unfortunate, it really is, it truly is."
The Michigan Advocate reports that Lucido has not directly reached out to Donahue or the publication.