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Big day: Nassar survivor in court, U.S. Capitol


On the first day of former Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon’s preliminary hearing on charges she lied to police about the Larry Nassar situation, sexual assault survivor Amanda Thomashow appeared in court to talk about the roadblocks she faced in trying to shine the light on Nassar back in 2014.

Later Tuesday, Thomashow flew to Washington to be U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s guest on the House floor for the President Trump’s State of the Union address.

For Slotkin, bringing Thomashow to the nation’s Capitol was a moment to highlight how her leadership “effected real change on an issue directly impacting the 8th District community.”

The visit also highlighted Slotkin’s recent questioning of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ proposed rule change to how sexual assaults are reported on colleges campuses.

“If adopted without substantive and significant revision, this rule will excuse large swaths of harassing activity from scrutiny under Title IX, creating a chilling effect on the reporting of sexual harassment and assault, and make an already arduous grievance process ever more difficult for victims,” Slotkin wrote to DeVos.

DeVos’ proposed changes from November require schools to respond to every known report of sexual harassment and investigate every complaint. But the proposed changes are getting pushback because it gives the accused the right to cross-exam an accuser through an intermediary.

Slotkin’s problem is the term “sexual harassment” becomes strict under the changes and schools would only be held liable in cases of “deliberate indifference.” Combined, she sees this as turning colleges and universities into “safe harbors” to avoid liability.

Thomashow said before the visit that she looked forward to “continuing the conversation around institutional responsibility for preventing and addressing sexual assault head-on, but also to discuss how Congress can push back on attempts to roll back students’ and survivors rights and strengthen Title IX protections.”

Meanwhile, Slotkin’s re-election machine fired up late last week. In its first fundraising drive email, “Team Slotkin” acknowledged “it seems soooo early” to be talking about this so early, but it stressed that it needs to build on the momentum of 2018.

Also, “Team Slotkin” believes five Republicans are considering running against Slotkin in 2020, although it didn’t say who.

Leonard hangs out a shingle

Former House Speaker Tom Leonard, of DeWitt — the unsuccessful GOP candidate for attorney general against DanaNessel — is launching his own policy development and strategic collaboration firm called MiStrategies, LLC. Leonard’s client is Detroit developer Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans.

The former speaker ended up supporting the Gilbert-driven “MiThrive” brownfield tax credit legislation in 2017, despite the charge from some House conservatives that the bills were “corporate welfare.”

Since then, Gilbert has been pushing for substantial auto insurance reforms. Leonard was the leader of an auto reform package in the House that ended up getting voted down in November 2017.

Leonard said he will not be a registered lobbyist. The difference is noteworthy. Consultants give clients advice while lobbyists speak directly and advocate to a government official for their paid client.

Kyle Melinn, of the Capitol news service MIRS, is at melinnky@gmail.com


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