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GOP rep. claimed Sweet 16 team's flight carried 'illegal invaders'

Michigan State Rep. Matt Maddock falsely claimed a flight with undocumented immigrants arrived at Detroit metro airport.
GOP rep. claimed Sweet 16 team's flight carried 'illegal invaders'
Posted at 8:22 AM, Mar 29, 2024

A viral post on X Wednesday night by Michigan State Rep. Matt Maddock falsely claimed a flight with undocumented immigrants arrived at Detroit metro airport and loaded three buses.

The flight, in fact, carried the Gonzaga men's basketball team, in town for the Sweet 16 in Detroit. Allegiant Air, the airline depicted in the photo, confirmed to Scripps News Detroit that the plane was carrying the team.

The Wayne County Airport Authority also confirmed in a statement:

"The four men’s basketball teams competing in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 at Little Caesars Arena arrived at DTW Wednesday evening. The buses seen in a photograph circulating online were transporting the basketball teams and their respective staffs," the airport said. 

Maddock is a Republican who represents White Lake, Highland Township, Milford Township and Commerce Township.

He tweeted, "three buses just loaded up with illegal invaders at Detroit Metro," tagging Michigan Republican Party Chair Pete Hoekstra, with no evidence.

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According to FlightRadar24, the flight flew from Spokane, Wash., where Gonzaga is located, to Detroit metro airport and landed around 7:30 p.m. before taxiing to the area on the east side of the airport.

We reached out to the Michigan Republican Party for a statement and have not heard as of Thursday evening.

After the tweet began going viral, Maddock posted at 10:47 a.m. Thursday, doubling down saying in part, "since we can't trust the Fake News to investigate, citizens will."

We also reached out to Maddock, who declined an interview but tripled down on the post via text message.

Progress Michigan Executive Director San Inglot released a statement on Thursday regarding the tweet that said in part, "It’s important to acknowledge the dangerous rhetoric he used while spreading his misinformation."

Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party Lavora Barnes also condemns the post. 

"When faced with the facts, he chooses to double down on the disinformation and misinformation that he shared in those tweets and turn it into what he hopes, I think, is a political score," Barnes said. "And that's my biggest fear that someone will see this and think, oh, wow, there is an invasion of some sort and I need to do something to protect myself, my family... it just ratchets up the anger and the fear."

This story was originally published by Max White and Ruta Ulcinaite for Scripps News Detroit. 


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