LANSING (WWJ/AP) – The leader of the Michigan Senate says a senator facing criminal charges should give “serious consideration” to whether or not he can still serve his constituents.
Republican Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof’s spokeswoman Amber McCann said Tuesday that the charges against Virgil Smith are “very serious.”READ MORE: Meet These Two Bear Cubs Who Have Become Inseparable At The Detroit Zoo
Her statement came after Democratic Minority Leader Jim Ananich announced Smith had been relieved of some duties.
“We are responsible for ensuring the people of Michigan, and the people of the 4th Senate District, are represented by a Senator who can serve them effectively,” Ananich said. “To that end, Senator Smith has been removed from his committees and been relieved of his caucus responsibilities, effective immediately.”
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick reported the statement by Ananich came almost immediately after Smith was formally charged.
“Now this leaves open-ended what the caucus might do if Smith decides to show up and participate in floor debate,” Skubick added. “That would be huge other issue to be resolved.”READ MORE: Delta Wants Other Airlines To Share ‘No-Fly’ Lists To Help Stop Unruly Passengers
The 35-year-old Smith, a Democrat has been charged with felonious assault, domestic violence and other charges on accusations he shot his ex-wife’s car during a domestic dispute early Sunday at his Detroit home. No one was injured.
The Michigan Constitution prohibits lawmakers from serving if they are convicted of a felony “involving a breach of public trust.”
Before the charges were formally filed, Skubick said, the sentiment on both sides of the aisle on this issue seemed to be abotu the same: “We need to go slow, we don’t wanna rush to judgement, and we certainly don’t want to pre-judge our colleague, and we assume he is innocent until proven guilty,” Skubick said. “That said, some did express concerns about this situation, calling it ‘very serious.'”
Smith represents Michigan’s fourth senate district, including portions of Detroit, Lincoln Park, Allen Park and Southgate.
He was arraigned in Detroit’s 36th District Court on Tuesday at which time a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.MORE NEWS: Veteran Needs Help With Home Repairs
TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.