Michigan State Representative Pamela Hornberger is using some strong language when referencing Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.  Hornberger, an announced candidate for the Michigan State Senate, is accusing Secretary of State Benson of “gaslighting”.  The accusation follows months of wrangling between Benson and the Whitmer administration, and conservative state lawmakers, over calls to fully reopen Secretary of State Branch offices.

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Psychology Today headlines an information page on its website about “gaslighting” by describing the action as,
“...a manipulation tactic used to gain power. And it works too well.”

Most Michigan state lawmakers and hundreds of thousands of state residents have been complaining over restrictions imposed by Benson on accessing Secretary of State services. That goes back to last year when Benson ordered branches offices closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Benson had proclaimed Secretary of State offices from then on would primarily only be open for online services and that in-person service for state residents was over. Kaput.*

More recently, state lawmakers have been pushing hard to get branch offices reopened. Secretary Benson at one point demanded $25 million from the legislature to be able to reopen. The Legislature refused. Secretary Benson still began to reopening some services, minus the funding she said she needed. Many state lawmakers say that proved who had the right approach in mind.

A new funding package is near final approval by the legislature to get things rolling within the Secretary of State Department. In response, Secretary Benson is issuing a public release indicating the legislature is following her lead on the issue.

That’s what is prompting the “gaslighting” accusation from Representative Hornberger. She says “Now that these bills have passed both chambers with strong bipartisan support Secretary Benson wants to claim she was on board with opening the branches all along.”  Hornberger says the statement from Benson is,
“...a masterpiece in “gaslighting”.  It should be included in the Journalism 101 curriculum under “Gaslighting”.
*
The Michigan Secretary of State Media Coordinator requests that we correct this story by indicating that in-person service has been available at SOS branch offices since June of 2020. However, most Michigan residents and many state legislators consider in-person service to be comparable to how branch offices were operated and open for non-appointment required services, or no greeter-based appointment screening, that was in place prior to the COVID-19 outbreak forced closings. So while Michigan residents have for the most part been able to get personal service inside a SOS branch office since June of 2020, it has been with considerable changes and impositions compared to the service officered by the state prior to the virus created closing order.

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Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

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