In 2024, Rep. Friske’s political fate is hardly sealed as scandal unfolds


Last week, a state representative from Up North named Neil Friske was arrested by Lansing police for allegedly chasing a Deja Vu dancer out of his condo and down Forest Road in Lansing at 2:45 a.m.

Friske, a conservative member of the alt-right Freedom Caucus, had his gun on him at the time. Sources said that Friske told police that the woman had taken something of value from him.

Initially, police were looking at three felony assault charges, including sexual assault and a weapons charge, but Ingham County Prosecutor John Dewane asked for more time to investigate the whole affair. I’m told he wanted more information from the adult dancer.

We all do, don’t we?

Why was the dancer there? How did they make each other’s acquaintance? What did she allegedly take? Were shots fired?

Nobody is saying anything more. Friske vows he will be vindicated when everything comes out, and maybe he will.

The story went national. Of course it went national. Conservative lawmaker. An adult dancer. A gun. Police. An arrest.

Who needs more when your imagination can fill in the rest?

And that’s really the point. The dash to mold a story that hasn’t fully dried is too tempting to resist.

It’s possible Friske is ultimately charged with multiple felony offenses. Evidence of shots fired. Found guilty and loses his House seat in shame. Locked away for several years. A tragedy.

It’s also possible that nothing really happened. Maybe the dancer wasn’t even invited into his condo. Maybe she followed him home to pull off a heist. Maybe no shots were even fired. The claims of sexual assault turn out to be unsubstantiated and nothing comes of it.

Could this whole thing be a setup, something cooked up by Friske’s political rivals to make him look bad the week absentee ballots for the primary election are mailed out?

That was suggested this week by an Up North radio host, who believes these same political rivals found a way to sabotage the laptop he uses to produce his show. The radio host, “Trucker” Randy Bishop, was ready to go on the air last Friday morning with a new version of the Friske story that was favorable to the lawmaker.

Apparently. Friske doesn’t have a fan in U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, and it’s the “Bergman machine” that is trying to tear down Friske.

Bergman’s spokesperson responded by asking Bishop to take off his “tin-foiled hat” and take a breath of some fresh Northern Michigan air.

Again, as farfetched as the whole affair seems, the possibilities about what really happened are limitless.

In times like this, when we all want to know the whole story NOW, the hardest thing to do is wait for law enforcement to release its information.

Without the whole story, something else will fill the void. Maybe it’s a political persuasion. Maybe it’s a past experience with law enforcement or adult dancers or whatever.

We all want to close the book on these types of stories. Nobody wants loose ends with something like this.

Now, with all that said, it’s not the media’s fault that anything happened to Neil Friske at 2:45 last Thursday morning.

Nobody is saying police made this whole thing up, that Friske wasn’t standing along Forest Road with his gun on his person.

Yet, it’s the uncertainty that’s spilling into the growing voter cynicism over ... well, just about everything — the media, law enforcement, the legal system.

Shoot, the Republican Party is preparing to nominate a presidential candidate with fresh felony convictions on his record. People are skeptical that the jury trial was on the up and up.

As Friske faces a serious Republican primary opponent this summer, it’s now up to the voters in city of Cheboygan and Emmet, Cheboygan and Mackinac counties to decide Friske’s political fate.

What we know now would have been a death knell to his campaign in years past. In 2024, we can’t be sure.

(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS at


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