The Michigan Senate voted to reject Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s appointment of former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell (pictured above) to lead the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) last week.
A spokesperson for Whitmer’s office called Senate Republicans sexist in February after they rejected a female appointee to the commission, which sets the hunting and fishing rules for the state.
The House Progressive Women’s Caucus echoed those remarks, saying the rejection of Anna Mitterling was an “inappropriate display of partisanship intended to hamstring Gov. Whitmer from doing what the people of Michigan elected her to do.”
“The members of the Executive Committee of the Progressive Women’s Caucus stand in solidarity with Ms. Mitterling and women everywhere who persevere through intolerable situations like this,” the caucus said in a statement.
Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) said the Senate’s rejection of Heartwell proves the governor’s sexism claims “were baseless.”
“George Heartwell is a noted gun-grabber who had no business getting near the Natural Resources Commission, let alone leading this important panel,” LaFave said in a press release. “Heartwell is such a well-known anti-gun stooge that the governor had to be trolling gun owners and hunters across Michigan by trying to appoint him.”
He said that making “absurd claims of sexism is lazy and hurtful to women” and applauded the Senate for rejecting Heartwell. The Senate rejected his appointment in a Thursday vote of 20-17.
“Today I voted to disapprove of Gov. Whitmer’s appointment of George Heartwell to the state Natural Resources Commission,” Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) said in a statement. “The commission is one of the most powerful and impactful government bodies in this state, especially for the Upper Peninsula, where use of the natural resources affects so many parts of our daily lives. Recent policies from the NRC have made law-abiding citizens throughout our state frustrated and distrustful of these decisions and of the people who are making them.”
While serving as mayor of Grand Rapids, Heartwell supported an ordinance that banned loaded firearms from any public place in the city and even acknowledged that the law might be in violation of state law.
“I have received hundreds of calls, emails, visits and letters from my constituents, expressing their anger and frustration over Mr. Heartwell’s appointment, especially given his stance and actions on guns and his association with anti-hunting groups. His appointment was seen by many Second Amendment advocates, hunters, anglers and outdoorsmen and women as a threat to their rights and unfit to represent their positions,” McBroom added.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the rejections of Heartwell and Mitterling mark the first time in almost a decade that the Senate has formally rejected a governor’s nominee.
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