Michigan Dem lawmaker who called ‘Big Gretch’ his ‘homie’ reports $221 campaign spending at strip club

The Michigan state lawmaker who tried to play the governor card, if not politician privilege, when he was arrested for alleged drunk driving in April has included an interesting, if not exotic, entry on the campaign fundraising disclosure form required for incumbents and candidates.

Democrat State Rep. Jewell Jones, reportedly spent $221 of campaign money at a Dearborn, Mich., strip club in what the paperwork described as a March 2021 meeting with constituents about potential economic projects.

Jones, who is up for reelection in 2022, told the Detroit News over the phone, in a call that got disconnected, that he thought the venue, the Pantheion Club, was a “lounge.”

He later added via text message to the news outlet that the club’s menu offered “great lamb chops” and that “We have (to) meet people where they’re at some times.”

The document indicates that 2021 to date, the politician has spent about $6,000 in campaign cash on meals and meetings at lounges and the like.

According to a Twitter account that purports to be for the Pantheion Club, the adult entertainment cabaret describes itself as “The oldest and most established gentlemens club in Michigan! We are #1 in topless entertainment!”

The Detroit News added some context to Jones’ expenditure:

It is not rare for a Michigan lawmaker to use campaign funds to purchase dinners related to their official duties. However, the level and type of spending described in his new report is unusual.

Simon Schuster, executive director of the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network, said Michigan’s elected officials “often use campaign funds to wine, dine and entertain themselves … under the guise of conducting business.”

“While this sort of spending isn’t uncommon, sadly, the venue Rep. Jones chose truly pushes the limit of credulity,” Schuster said.

On April 6, Rep. Jones was arrested in an alleged DUI-related car crash during which dash-cam video showed him appearing to resist, resulting in a scuffle and officers deploying a taser on him.

During the traffic stop, Jones told cops he would call “Gretchen” — a reference to the state’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — and bragged that he had political influence over the state police budget.

He apparently refused a breathalyzer at the scene. Cops subsequently secured a search warrant for a blood draw, allegedly resulting in a BAC of 0.19. Like most states, the legal limit in Michigan is 0.08.

Jones was also allegedly non-compliant during the booking process.

At that time, Jones warned the officers, in a back and forth that was also videoed, that “Big Gretch,” referring to again to Whitmer, would come after them if he was not allowed to wear a mask for the photo.

The state rep. is charged with “drunken driving, resisting police, possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving,” MLive reported. “He was released on bond under conditions that included random drug and alcohol testing.

He is due in court next month for a pre-trial hearing on those charges.

Late last week, a Livingston County, Mich., judge fined Rep. Jones $1,000 for violating the terms of his bond for a second time, while warning him that he could be headed to jail upon a third instance, the news outlet noted. “This time, 26-year-old Jones returned to court over late payments related to the ankle alcohol monitoring system he was ordered to wear last month.”

“In June, Jones was accused of misrepresenting the circumstances surrounding military orders that prevented him from getting his court-ordered drug and alcohol testing,” the Detroit News added.

Robert Jonathan

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