2017-05-25 / Columns

Milliken Suffers Big Political Loss

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

Upon becoming Michigan’s longest-serving governor 1969-1982, Republican William G. Milliken had many a big win. Last week, he had a big loss in the death of his close friend and top political aide Joyce Braithwaite-Brickley, a longtime resident of Traverse City, who more recently was with sons back in the Lansing area.

“We were the closest of friends and worked together over the many years I served as governor,” Milliken said. “I will greatly miss her and will always cherish her as my friend.”

As a colleague of her on Milliken’s staff, I can attest that Joyce was second to none as a supporting force behind Milliken’s political success. She was instrumental in his elections and ran the selection process for his appointees.

As noted by area attorney Dean Robb, she also was instrumental in local activities, including the Traverse City Film Festival.

State’s Senators Respond to Trump Probe

President Donald Trump branded it as the biggest “witch hunt” in U.S. political history, but Michigan’s two Democratic senators issued statements welcoming appointment of ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller III to oversee the probe into Russia’s alleged meddling into the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf.

Trump, consistent with his excessive assertions - such as calling ousted FBI Director - proclaimed last week: “No politician in history has been treated more unfairly.”

Third-term Senator Debbie Stabenow responded to the appointment of Mueller, the sixth director of the FBI starting in 2001 and serving for 12 years:

“I welcome the news that the Justice Department has appointed a special counsel to look into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is a highly qualified and wellrespected law enforcement official who served both Presidents Bush and Obama.

“I encourage him to move quickly to examine the facts and conduct a thorough investigation. The American people deserve answers so we can move forward and focus on jobs and the other critical challenges facing our families and communities.”

Michigan’s junior senator, Gary Peters, who, like Stabenow is a former state legislator, said:

“Russia’s unprecedented interference into our election threatens our national security and the very foundation of our democracy. The appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel is a good first step toward a thorough investigation that is free from political pressure of interference.”

“The American people deserve to know the facts about Russian efforts to disrupt the 2016 election, any involvement with the Trump campaign, and any attempt by the President or other officials to improperly influence the FBI. The facts alone should drive this investigation.”

In a later television interview, Peters said the controversy over the probe has “cast a cloud over everything.” He said the issue “is not about party. It’s about country.”

Soo Locks Tour

Stabenow and 16-term 6th District U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) said that there will be a bipartisan Michigan congressional tour of the Soo Locks Friday, June 2, immediately following the Detroit Chamber’s Mackinac Island Policy Conference. They said Governor Rick Snyder would join the tour.

Stabenow and Upton, who are among Michigan politicians urging federal funding for a new lock, said: “The Soo Locks are a part of Michigan’s most critical infrastructure. They not only impact our shipping industry, but also are of major importance to our state and country’s economy and national security.”

“As Congress anticipates more debate over our nation’s infrastructure, this tour is especially timely.”

In 2015, the Michigan Congressional delegation, led by Stabenow and Upton, held what they called the first ever defense tour across the state. The tour highlighted the importance of Michigan’s military installations and new opportunities to grow Michigan’s defense interests and create jobs.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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