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Michigan GOP lawmaker falsely labels March Madness athletes 'illegal invaders'

On social media, Rep. Matt Maddock said buses near a Detroit airport had been "loaded up with illegal invaders.” The airport later said the buses were "transporting the basketball teams and their respective staffs."
politics political politician
State Rep. Matt Maddock.Matt Maddock via Facebook
/ Source: The Associated Press

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. — A Michigan state lawmaker involved in former President Donald Trump’s election denials is being widely criticized making false claims that buses carrying college athletes to Detroit for March Madness were shuttling illegal migrant “invaders” into the city.

State House Rep. Matt Maddock made the claim Wednesday night in a social media post accompanied by photos of three buses near an Allegiant plane at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Maddock wrote that the buses “just loaded up with illegal invaders.”

“Anyone have any idea where they’re headed with their police escort?” the Republican wrote on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. Maddock describes himself as Michigan’s “most conservative state representative” in his profile on the platform.

Four college basketball teams traveling to Detroit for the second weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament arrived by plane Wednesday evening, the Wayne County Airport Authority said in a statement. The “buses seen in a photograph circulating online were transporting the basketball teams and their respective staffs,” the statement added.

Image: Gonzaga v Kansas sports gonzaga
The Gonzaga Bulldogs react during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks in Salt Lake City on Saturday.Chris Gardner / Getty Images

Maddock’s post drew swift criticism on social media, with multiple accounts noting that an earlier post on the Gonzaga men’s basketball team’s social media page had indicated their departure for Detroit, featuring an Allegiant plane.

“A sitting State Representative sees a group of buses at the airport and immediately yells ‘illegal invaders’ which is a pretty rude (and also, frankly, dangerous) way to greet the Gonzaga Men’s Basketball Team arriving for March Madness,” state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, a Democrat, wrote on social media.

Maddock doubled down on his posts Thursday, adding that hundreds of thousands of “illegals are pouring into our country,” and into Michigan. In a text response to The Associated Press, Maddock declined to acknowledge that the buses were transporting basketball players.

“I haven’t heard a good answer yet,” Maddock wrote. “I took a tip and asked because this is happening in many places and it is well documented.”

Some Republicans who had initially echoed Maddock’s claims made in his original post, such as Michigan GOP chairman Pete Hoekstra, quickly backtracked.

Maddock, a Republican representing parts of metro Detroit, was endorsed by Trump while running for reelection in 2022. Trump said in his statement endorsing Maddock that Michigan needs leadership “who will investigate and document the 2020 voter fraud, the crime of the century.”

His wife, Meshawn Maddock, the former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, is one of 15 Republicans facing eight criminal charges on accusations of acting as fake electors for then-President Trump in 2020. All defendants have pleaded not guilty.