A robocall making the rounds in the Farmington area Wednesday accused State Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-37th District) of voting against a bill to require the pledge of allegiance in Michigan schools because it includes the word "God".
Patch readers who reported receiving the call said it did not include any information that would identify the responsible group or individual. Barnett's challenger, Republican Bruce Lilley, said the call did not come from his campaign.
Barnett, who vehemently denies the allegation, said she voted on principle against two House bills that would require schools to display a flag in every public school classroom and to ensure that every student has the opportunity to recite the Pledge every school day. Previously passed by the state Senate, the pledge bill is now on its way to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk.
Pointing out that she says the pledge before every session, Barnett said the words are "too important to be reduced to a bumper sticker".
"I support children saying the pledge, I support having the flag in classrooms. They represent the values we hold dear as a nation," Barnett said. "My vote was in opposition to the exploitation of these symbols, primarily for political gain."
Barnett's opponent, Lilley of Farmington, said his campaign has not done any robocalling. He said if the House bill was a political ploy, "I agree we don't need to use our children or the venue our children occupy as a bludgeon."
Lilley added that he doesn't know whether there is a problem with schools not offering students the opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But no matter what the issue, he's not a fan of robocalls.
"There's got to be more effective ways to talk to people," he said, adding he is known among his friends for being a "letter guy". "I just feel like we've lost touch."
Barnett said she has been the target of other anonymous, "slanderous" robocalls this campaign season. She sees them as a way to avoid dealing with real issues, but this one went over the top.
"I was on the path to becoming a rabbi, I taught religious school for many years," she said. "Questioning my faith is beyond the pale and should be out of bounds."