Beginning in 2020, retired attorney Bob LaBrant, who once had been Senior Vice President for Political Affairs and General Counsel for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, became increasingly estranged from the Republican Party. What was the motivation for his metamorphosis?
Let’s hear it from LaBrant in his own words:
“I publicly supported Joe Biden for President over the Republican Party’s cult leader, Donald Trump. I thought claims that the election was rigged were bogus and submitted written testimony to the State Board of Canvassers in December, 2020, calling on the Canvassers to perform their statutory duty and certify the statewide election results.
“As a heart attack and cancer survivor, the Covid pandemic affected not only me and my wife personally, but also our daughter, two grandchildren, and our two great-granddaughters. Our two great-granddaughters, ages 3 and 5, attend preschool and kindergarten, respectively. Back in 2020, both were without any immediate prospect of Covid-19 vaccination. My daughter and granddaughter are both Florida teachers. Both of them and their husbands were vaccinated in 2021 and have received subsequent boosters. Today both great-granddaughters have been vaccinated. But they live in a state with an irresponsible governor (Ron DeSantis) who currently prohibits, by his executive order, local mask and vaccine mandates, putting my family members at risk just to score cheap political points.
“Not surprisingly, I viewed state Senator Mike Shirkey’s ‘Unlock Michigan’ petition drive, in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic, as ideological foolishness, long on protestations of individual liberty and natural immunity but short on keeping Michiganders alive, out of ICU’s and hospitals.
“This was all taking place while Donald Trump refused to wear a mask, called on lockdowns to end, and promoted quack Covid remedies. In Michigan, self-styled militia members using their “right” of open carry, brought their AR-15s and stormed into the State Capitol to protest gubernatorial shutdown orders. Senator Shirkey met with those protestors.
“I decided to fight back against this madness by challenging how Unlock Michigan was being funded, by using my knowledge and years of experience with the Michigan campaign finance law. This soon brought me into conflict with former colleagues and former political allies who supported Unlock Michigan. If those folks want to call me a “RINO, ” I wear that label with pride.
“There is an old adage in politics, of which I have a much better appreciation of today — There are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only interests. My interest is in my, and my family’s health and well-being. Although I regret that former friends no longer talk to me, if I had to do it all again, I would.
“The day I filed my complaint I received a call from a former colleague I had worked with urging me to withdraw my complaint. He sincerely believed that there would be serious repercussions for me if I did not. I declined his request.
“I eventually had a grievance filed against me with the Attorney Grievance Commission (AGC) by Heather Lombardini, a former co-worker at the Sterling Corporation, where I had been a part-time employee for five years before I left in June 2017. That was three years before the pandemic and three years before Unlock Michigan was organized.
“Lombardini serves as President of Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility (MCFR), which Sterling organized and she manages. She alleged, that by filing my campaign finance complaint against MCFR, I had somehow released privileged and confidential information. Did she seriously believe MCFR had a secret plan stored away that I was privy too, to launder more than $1.8 million through MCFR to give to a yet-to-be-formed ballot question committee?
“The Lombardini grievance went on to bizarrely suggest that my motive for filing my campaign finance complaint was to ingratiate myself with Governor Whitmer in order to be re-appointed to a fourth term on the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC). In my answer to the grievance, I told the AGC I had no interest in serving another term when my term of office expired, but the speculation as to my motive was utter nonsense. Did the complainant seriously think, if my goal were a fourth term on MERC, I would ignore what impact challenging the improper funding of the Senate Majority Leader’s favorite ballot question committee would have on my appointment, which requires the advice and consent of the Senate? My re-appointment would have been dead on arrival.
“The grievance was as meritless as it was silly, and within weeks it was dismissed. I can make public the dismissal of this grievance under MCR 9.126(A), which provides that, at my option as the respondent, the final disposition of a request for investigation not resulting in formal charges may be made public.
“The Michigan Chamber was listed as a Gold Sponsor at the 2021 Michigan Republican Mackinac Conference, a perfectly legal donation to the administrative account of the Michigan Republican Party. Other sponsors listed on a sign at the Grand Hotel include CMS Energy, and DTE. None of these utilities made any contributions directly to Unlock Michigan, either. Did any utilities or the Chamber make any donations in 2020-2021 to MCFR?
“The Detroit News published in an August 29, 2021, article that the DTE-affiliated organization, Michigan Energy First, in 2019 contributed $650,000 to the Michigan Republican Party administrative account. Another Detroit News article on February 11, 2021, listed DTE as a Gold Sponsor of a fund-raising reception to the 501 C (4) organization, Michigan! My Michigan! Heather Lombardini was listed on the reception invitation as the contact person.
“When the late Hugh McDiarmid, former Detroit Free Press political columnist during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s wrote about the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, he almost always added this phrase: “a very Republican organization.” It was as if Hugh’s typewriter keyboard had a key that when stroked added that phrase next to the Michigan Chamber’s name.
“I was never offended by Hugh’s reference any more than Bill Marshall, Sam Fishman, Frank Garrison, or Mark Gaffney would have been offended if Hugh always referred to the Michigan AFL-CIO as “closely tied to the Democratic Party.”
“I learned over the years that whichever party controlled a legislative chamber and its committees mattered. That party sets the agenda.
“Party loyalty, however, has its limits. Donald Trump hijacked the Republican Party. The Republican Party today acts like a Trump cult. Its party leaders and elected officials have been drinking the Trump Kool-Aid for far too long.
“My life experience has come full circle. Back in 1974, the conservative Republican Congressman I worked for on Capitol Hill and later back in his Wisconsin district office, Harold Froehlich (WI-8), demonstrated to me his political courage by voting, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, “aye” on two articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon (Article 1, obstruction of justice; Article 2, abuse of power). Harold Froehlich knew those committee votes against his party’s President would cost him re-election. They did, in the November, 1974, election,
“Harold Froehlich, as a lawyer and later judge, had respect for the rule of law and felt a duty to the Constitution and his oath of office. He paid a political price, but he ended his congressional career with honor and on the right side of history.
“I thought Trump twice deserved impeachment. The Trump administration appalled me: the nepotism; the daily violation of the ’emoluments’ clause; the disregard of norms; the flouting of the separation of powers doctrine; Trump’s too cozy relationship with Putin and the strongmen ruling Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea; Trump’s willingness to weaken NATO; the utter chaos at the White House; and the firings by tweet. Trump’s megalomania and narcissism, for me, were too much.
“More disappointing to me was the utter silence from most of the Republican Michigan Congressional delegation, afraid to be the recipient of the next Trump tweet. Fred Upton, Justin Amash, and Peter Meijer, of course, were the exceptions. Capping it all was Trump’s malfeasance in handling the pandemic that killed, by Memorial Day 2021, more than one million Americans. That figure represented more deaths by Covid than we suffered in World War I, World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
“In August, 2020, I wrote an opinion piece for the Detroit Free Press opposing the Republican petition drive to repeal the 1945 Emergency Gubernatorial Powers Act (Unlock Michigan). I asked whether a strong Republican governor like John Engler or Bill Milliken would have sat idly by and let the legislature strip him, as the governor, of his emergency powers during a pandemic?
“I later joined the Lincoln Project’s effort to elect Joe Biden president. The Free Press wrote an article featuring former Governor Rick Snyder and me, as Republicans, now supporting Biden.
“After the election, I submitted testimony to the Board of State Canvassers and co-wrote an opinion piece for Crain’s Detroit Business, warning that the election results needed to be certified as required under Michigan election law. Without timely certification, the Republican state legislators from Michigan who flew out to Washington to confer with Trump at the White House and spent the night at his D.C. hotel, might attempt to implement one of Rudy Giuliani’s crazier schemes, having the Republican controlled legislature alone, in the absence of certified electors, appoint 16 presidential electors supporting Trump ignoring the fact that Biden carried Michigan by 154,000 votes.”
Patrick laughlin says
Over decades of involvement with the MichiganState Chamber of Commerce Bob LaBrant served competently and ethically. His integrity cannot be impugned. I always appreciated Mr LaBrant’s honesty and keen legal mind. Nothing has changed for me!
Gary Owen says
I am not surprised by legitimate conservatives reaction to trump. Bob reaction was in keeping with his years of support for traditional Republican goals We had our differences but I always respected him
David L Richards says
The Republican Party has historically had many officials, elected and party leaders, who are capable and have integrity. Unfortunately, those people are being drummed out of the party.
Mike in TC says
Thanks for sharing Bob LeBrant’s journey from conservative Republican service to being repulsed by the thugs that have taken over the GOP in the name of uber-thug Trump. His evolution is echoed by my own. The true “RINOs” are the cult members who follow a non-conservative con man who lost the 2020 election and who is going to accelerate GOP losses in the near future..
Peter Kihnmuench says
I agree with Patrick Laughlin wholeheartedly and add Thank You Bob LaBrant for pointing out the obvious truths about Donald Trump.
The king truly has no clothes….
Pat Hardy says
Bob LaBrant…my idea of a Hero, in a time when leaders and heroes are sadly lacking in the world of politics and beyond.
‘Ol Bob obviously believes fake news. Typical of a RINO. Trump in 2024!
Ed Haynor says
Mr. LaBrant’s commentary is very well written, refreshing, and he holds steadfast to his personal ethics and morality, being more important than today’s republican politics. If America’s experiment unravels because of what republicans did or failed to do, during their “big lie,” they alone will be responsible for America’s undoing.
Gerald Hough says
One has to wonder if Mr. LaBrant is happy with his choice of Biden for president. He also should watch Dinesh D’Souza’s movie 2000 Mules regarding the illegal activity that took place during the 2000 election.
Mark M Koroi says
The political center of the GOP in Michigan is decidedly pro-Trump.
John Gibbs is the perfect example of what a Trump endorsement will do against someone who has opposed Trump within the GOP.
The convention showdown between Forton and Weiser showed the support that the fanatic pro-Trump wing has within the party.
DANIEL D DOWNING says
So Bob chose the lesser of the two evils in his eye. What of it? Isn’t that the kind of choice we all have had to make in recent years? An out-and-out crook vs a demagogue. I’m surprised after all his years in politics he can still distinguish the differences between them. They are both very smelly fish, that nobody should have to consume. What he describes as outraging him (electoral college finagling) has gone on throughout the history of this Republic. He seems to place great stock in the popular vote, which has been manipulated many, many times in national elections–Bush-Gore, Kennedy-Nixon, Nixon-McGovern. It is Politics! It is a very, dirty business.
Eric Petersen says
Bob LaBrant is obviously a dyed-in-the-wool Anti-Trumper with a bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. What kind of Republican would support the idiot Socialist Biden over any Republican? A DUMB one, that’s what kind !
Wake up and smell the coffee… Donald Trump IS the Republican Partry. Get used to the idea and help us Make America Great Again !
Barry Hintz says
Getting rid of the “RINOs” and demanding ideological purity to MAGA pushes away the independents who determine the outcome of elections in Michigan. There will never again be a Trump majority in Michigan- performance matters.
Matt Crehan says
For those of you who haven’t noticed by now, the 2016 Prez race was a repudiation of both the Republican and Democratic establishment candidates. (Bernie would have been the Dem’s candidate if H and her cronies hadn’t stolen it from him.) Think about that for a moment!! Both parties, in unison, decided that they were fed up with business as usual when it came to who would run the Country!
So it was easy to see that Trump would win the race, fair and square. (Something the democrats know little about; just think Chicago, and the rest falls into place!) The race would have been much more exciting if H didn’t steal the nomination from Bernie; and even more interesting if the race had been between Bernie and Low Energy Jeb!!
But there are those to whom style is everything and substance amounts to little. I’m not the least bit concerned that Trump ruffled, if not plucked, quite a few feathers. I’m very concerned with the results that occurred under his administration.
Two words come to mind when four years of DJT are taken into account; Peace and Prosperity!
Most people know that I have been, and am still, a supporter of Donald Trump. This is my best effort in explaining why. It is a bit lengthy, but I ask you to please study it.
There are a few things about his personality, which I know, many people do not like. And, I understand
that, I do. However, all who have knowledge of the man’s life, surely knows he has always been a person
who speaks his mind. You never need wonder what he thinks about on any subject or issue that may
arise. If one doesn’t like that trait in a person, that’s okay.
A few days ago, I overheard a discussion between a couple of my friends concerning former President
Trump. One of the men said, “I’m opposed to him. I’m through with him. He is an embarrassment with all
those damn tweets and his arrogance. He has a stinking personality, a big mouth.”
I’ve heard others use those words when referring to the former president. I realize it is quite a challenge to write about this without coming across as politically motivated, but I’m going to honestly try. I am
addressing it from the “opposed” perspective, because some things which embarrass one may not
embarrass another. Besides, embarrassment has little, if anything, to do with what is good or bad for a
nation and the wellbeing of its people. Where, on the other hand, his actions (policy wise) can and do
have a profound effect on the nation and the people, today and into the future.
With that in mind, let’s together examine some factual results, affecting the well-being all of the people of
our nation, of some of President Trump’s policies, and the results of his leadership efforts pertaining to his work (actions) on those policies during his time in office.
Please, for a few minutes let’s lay aside any differences in political party affiliation that may exist and the
bias they bring out and ask ourselves only as American citizens, except for that which embarrasses me,
considering only records of fact in the state of our nation’s affairs while he was president. Just what is it I
am opposed to and dislike him for except his arrogance, tweeting, wealth, saying what’s on his mind (big
Ask yourself, am I opposed to:
(1) An economy which, by all measurements officially used, especially GDP was growing at an
(2) Americans unemployed, 3.4% lowest in 61 years?
(3) Number of Americans employed (working) as of December 2019:
159,604,000, highest number ever in our history?
(4) Black Americans unemployed 5.4% lowest in nation’s history?
(5) Hispanic and Asian Americans unemployed 4.2% lowest in history?
(6) American women unemployed 4.1% lowest in 65 years?
(7) Lowest unemployment of America’s war Veterans in 18 years at 3.4%?
(8) There were more jobs available than workers to fill them?
(9) Over 5,000,000 Americans left the food stamp rolls for living wage jobs?
(10) Most American citizens taking home more money because of the reduction of personal and
corporate income taxes and higher paying jobs? Median Household Annual Income had risen
by 4.2% to $65,084.
(11) Appointing of 234 Federal judges who had judicial records of upholding our Constitution,
including 3 to the United States Supreme Court.
(12) The fact that in dealings with all foreign nations, friend and foe alike, he always put the interests
of the American people first.
(13) Keeping us safe from foreign enemies by building our military complex, (those who protect and
defend our freedom and sovereignty) to the most powerful on the planet.
(14) Trying to secure our nation’s borders from uninvited intruders, just as we all do our homes and
(15) New and improved trade agreements with Japan, Mexico, Canada and South Korea.
(16) Erasing hundreds of stifling government regulations on business and individuals.
(17) NATO allies now paying their agreed to share for their defense instead of the U.S. paying the
Now place these results (there are many more) on one side of a pair of scales of justice as to what’s best
for our American nation, and his tweets and the other things he does which embarrass you on the other
and see which way it tips. Be perfectly honest with yourself.
Ask yourself again, “Just what is it I am opposed to?” I could have listed more, but for now sit quietly
somewhere alone and consider for yourself one at a time which of the above actions and policy results of
President Trump’s would you change or reverse and why would you do it.
After considering all these positive results during his four year presidency, I ask you to search your heart
for a good answer to these questions: WHY, WHY would so much of our money (at least millions, and
maybe billions) be spent, and how many days, weeks, months and years be spent, so many man hours
used up toward destroying him? WHY, the almost total focus on the destruction of this man from several
of our government departments, opposition political leaders and news media outlets?
In the recorded history of the United States there has never been such an effort to destroy a former
president. WHY, WHY do you suppose that is?
In MY OPINION, we need him and those results again, regardless of his personality. It is just me, but
I for one, could never let some embarrassment become greater than my love for my country and its well
being. I love my individual freedom too much to do that.
Yes, it is painfully obvious that those such as LaBrant, Snyder, et. al. were mortified by Trump. As are many people who are more in tune with style then substance. But it simply shocks the conscience that anyone with a (supposedly) Republican label could remotely think of casting their ballot for DEMentia Joe! He is certainly not running the Country, his puppet masters are doing that–into the ground!!
If anyone is not satisfied with the nominee of their party for any office there is usually a third party candidate who will be in philosophic agreement with your thoughts and beliefs. Much better to vote for a candidate that you are in basic agreement with, than a candidate that you would find abhorrent on any other occasion.
Michael J Wecker says
I agree with your list of accomplishments by Trump. Too many people voted for personality rather than accomplishment for America. Trump’s attitude changed as he faced more and more false allegations from the likes of Schiff, Nadler, the FBI, and lifers in various federal agencies.
Ed Haynor says
Heather Cox Richardson’s message of Sep 13, “Today, more than 150 prominent Michigan Republicans—including a former head of the Michigan Republican Party—backed Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer for reelection. The current Michigan Republican Party has backed far-right candidates for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general and has lined up behind Trump, who made attacking Whitmer a feature of his 2020 campaign. Those Republicans jumping behind the Democratic governor note that she has signed more than 900 bipartisan bills into law and has focused on issues that are good for everyone, regardless of party.”
‘During her time as governor, she has focused on growing our economy with major investments, strengthening our skilled workforce, investing in the education of our children, and making government work for us,’ said former Republican representative Joe Schwarz. “I know she will continue to advocate on behalf of hardworking Michiganders and that’s why I’m proud to support her for re-election this fall.”
Fritz Benson says
Thank you to Bob LaBrant for articulating so well what so many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum feel about how Donald Trump continues his quest to damage our democracy. Unless you kneel at his feet pledging 100% loyalty to all his schemes you are a RINO. He’s the RINO, for God’s sake!
Mark M Koroi says
Donald Trump is a populist in the mold of Robert LaFollette and Huey Long.
Once the hatred created by the American Left that has surrounded him in the liberal news media has dissipated he will be rightfully be regarded as one of the most significant political figures in U.S. history.
He was mentored by the late New York attorney Roy Cohn, who worked under and revered Sen. Joseph “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy; McCarthy also mentored Robert F. Kennedy. RFK and Cohn both understood the value of creating scapegoats from McCarthy. RFK targeted Teamsters Jimmy Hoffa, who had been a protege of Trotskyite Farrell Dobbs.
Donald Trump’s theme in 2016 – controversial as it was – intended to target Muslims and Latino immigrants as enemies of America. This scapegoating was a gambit that propelled him to the White House as a maverick outsider. He also destroyed the general GOP theme of not speaking evil of another Republican via attacks on his primary opponents.
Polling suggests that the GOP presidential nomination is his should Trump seek the nomination in 2024.
Trump is not a darling of the GOP establishment – he is a man of the people who drains the swamp. He legitimizes their prejudices and advocates through demagoguery. His rallies resonate with his followers much like those in 1930s-era Nuremburg, Germany.
In spite of this, most Republicans – and many independents – view him as an acceptable alternative to clearly incompetent Democratic Party candidates like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. The fact that Oakland County Republicans – who were once the largest delegate voting bloc at state GOP conventions – have declined in the last 8 years to be a footnote at those conventions – and conversely the largest current county delegation being now Macomb County Republicans – is directly traceable to Trump’s popularity in those respective counties.
During the last six years, Democratic leaders have bungled investigations and impeachment efforts aimed at toppling Trump – and continue to do so. Instead of focusing on rescuing the economy and promoting American interests, they have unsuccessfully targeted Trump. This is why many Americans are disgusted at Democrats and see Trump as the better alternative.
dan murphy says
Mr. LeBrant voiced many valid issues .However ,He brought discredit to His concerns by classifying all”
Trump supporters as Kool Aid Drinkers” . Individuals of all Parties are seriously worried with the direction the Nation is being led. President Obama declared that He would fundamentally change the foundation and culture of the Nation . He disagreed with Constitutional Republic as created by the Founders . He was vocally critical of the Electorate who did not embrace His Leftist agenda. He publicly chastised the Supreme Court Justices in a national address, should They oppose Him. Hillary called Dissenters, “DEPLORABLES”. Thus ,creating division. President Biden, questioned the legitimacy of the Supreme Court for its recent rulings which limited His exercise of Executive power. Also in a public address, Mr. Biden (to unify the Nation),called “Mega “supporters Fascist for not embracing His Progressive far Leftist ideology. This is not how issues should be discussed, nor Government be practiced. Democracy is at risk It is not being “saved” as proclaimed by the President.
I feel sorry for this guy. He did what he thought was right at the time….. And it turns out he was wrong. Probably because people he trusted lied to him.
He was wrong about Covid: Natural Immunity does exist, Shots don’t stop transmission, masks don’t help unless they are N95, kids aren’t at risk, Ivermectin and HCL + Zinc work ect.
He was wrong about Trump: Turns out Joe Biden really was engaged in corruption in the Ukraine.
He was wrong about the election: Over 50% of the votes cast were absentee. And the only identity check on Absentee ballots is “Signature Verification”…. Ya, the same “signature verification” that lets your kid use you credit card no questions asked. Does ANYONE reading this honestly believe that fraudsters DIDN’T take advantage of that loophole to sell absentee ballots to the highest bidder? If you do believe that, I’ve got some mosquito free swamp land in the UP I’ll sell you cheap.
Now he’s old and is trying not admit to himself that he was wrong before he dies.