Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) condemned the harassment on Monday, calling it “not acceptable.”
“Hate and violence have no place in Michigan,” Whitmer said at a news conference, adding Michigan residents should move on from an election won by President-elect Joe Biden a month ago.
Politicians and election officials in Michigan have faced increasingly heated attacks since Biden carried the state by more than 154,000 votes. On Saturday, two dozen armed protesters surrounded the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), alleging Benson had ignored widespread voter fraud — a baseless claim that has repeatedly been rejected in court. Last week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) opened an investigation into threats made against members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, which certified votes key to Biden’s win over objections from the White House.
Elected officials in other states, including Georgia, Vermont and Arizona, have also seen an onslaught of threats. In an impassioned speech on Dec. 1, Gabriel Sterling, a top GOP election official in Georgia, warned that Trump’s continued undermining of the election and verbal attacks are fueling the violence and putting staff at risk.
“Someone’s going to get hurt,” Sterling said. “Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed.”
Johnson said her harassment was probably triggered by her appearance at a Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday, where she was openly critical of witnesses making unsubstantiated claims that the election was fraudulent.
“You’re allowing people to come in here and lie,” Johnson, who is the minority vice chair of the committee, said at the hearing to the committee chair, state Rep. Matt Hall (R). “And I know they’re lying.”
The event was one of several set up by Giuliani during his five-day tour of Arizona, Georgia and Michigan, all states the Trump campaign claims, without evidence, stole his victory by means of rampant voter fraud. Judges in six states — including Michigan — have ruled repeatedly that Trump’s attorneys haven’t proved their cases.
In the days after the hearing, Johnson said she was flooded with threatening and racist phone calls, emails, texts and Facebook messages. In one email, which Johnson posted on Facebook, a man used the n-word and called her a “dumb corrupt monkey.” A woman on Facebook called Johnson a “crackhead” and told her to jump off a bridge. A man threatened the state representative: “They are coming for you.”
After sharing some of the abusive messages with her colleagues over the weekend, at least one Republican colleague appeared unmoved.
Republican state Rep. Mary Whiteford emailed Johnson on Sunday, taking issue with her sharing the images of her threats and condemning her “heartless” request of a witness to spell her name at the hearing.
“I don’t understand why you would share this with me and other representatives, Cynthia,” Whiteford wrote. “By the way, I am shocked that you had that poor woman spell out her name during the hearing. You put her life at risk!”
“I am praying for you to have compassion for those that you disagree with,” Whiteford added.
In a statement to the Detroit Free Press on Monday, Whiteford stood by her critiques of Johnson’s questions at the hearing, but added the threats she has received are “horrifying” and “racism and violence have no place in our society.”
Johnson has continued updating her personal and official Facebook pages with the names, phone numbers and profiles of people she says sent her harassing messages. Most of the calls Johnson received come from other states, including New York, Georgia, California, Nevada, Illinois and Minnesota.
“New call attempts to my personal phone,” Johnson wrote on Sunday, referring to screenshots of nearly 80 unanswered phone calls. “If a message was left, I’ll make them famous!”
She went on to post a handful of racist and profanity-laden voice mails.
In a Facebook Live video on Monday, Johnson said she was astonished at the level of vitriol she’d received.
“Can you believe so many people would be so filled with hate?” she said.
The state lawmaker, who represents Detroit, added that she’s not “worried,” “going underground” or changing her phone number.
“I ain’t doing none of that!” she said. “But we are going to change some s--- that’s been going on in the city of Detroit. Things that have happened to our people and to our community.”