whitmer and arbulu

(Photos: State of Michigan)

Gov. Whitmer Calls For Civil Rights Director To Resign Over Remarks Objectifying Women

She has banned him from cabinet meetings

August 14, 2019 - 4:43 pm

LANSING (WWJ) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is calling on director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to resign after he allegedly made inappropriate comments objectifying women.

While the governor cannot fire Agustin Arbulu, WWJ's Tim Skubick reports: "She can kick him out of her cabinet meetings, and she's doing just that."

"Basically, for future cabinet meetings that he was attending, he will not be allowed in."

In a letter to commission, Whitmer said: “I am now of the opinion that Director Arbulu should resign and, if he refuses, the commission should immediately dismiss him."

The commission said it has no plans to do so; and, as a result the governor says she is directing her administration to not directly engage the director, except to the extent that it is required by law.

"In other words," Skubick said, "she is ostracizing him since she can't fire him." 

As far as what was said, according to a complaint from department staffer Todd Heywood, Arbulu allegedly made comments along the lines of "check out her ass," about a woman he saw outside a commission listening session at a school in Grosse Pointe. When Heywood told Arbulu he found the comments Arbulu offensive, Arbulu allegedly told him that's because Heywood doesn't like women. 

Arbulu said while he doesn't remember exactly what he said to Heywood, he has apologized, saying that his comments were a mistake. 

Whitmer wrote that she questions director’s ability to lead the Michigan Department of Civil Rights moving forward, adding: “The department has a critical mission: to prevent discrimination and to investigate and resolve discrimination complaints. This charge is as important today as ever. By his actions, and his response to the ensuing investigation, I believe the director has compromised that mission and lacks the credibility his position demands.”

Arbulu has led the department since 2015.