Snyder Renews Call for Civility, Won't Specifically Comment on Agema

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

As people in Mid-Michigan and across the country Monday reflected on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision for a more civil society, Gov. Rick Snyder made his own call for civility.

Speaking at the 29th annual MLK Luncheon in Lansing, Snyder made a familiar request--calling for civility and respect--as outrage builds within the Republican party following racist and homophobic comments made by GOP committeeman Dave Agema on social media.

But much like the governor did during his State of the State speech Thursday when he made similar remarks, he refused to directly condemn Agema.

"I want to make sure I'm making a general statement that applies to more than any single individual," Snyder said.

Agema's anti-gay and anti-Muslim remarks have triggered calls for resignation from within his own party, most recently this weekend from prominent "establishment Republican" Betsy DeVos, who told the Detroit News Agema was hurting the party.

"He reflects badly on Republicans and on Michigan," DeVos told Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley.

The former state GOP chair and major Republican party donor said she couldn't hold her tongue any longer.

"Leaders have a responsbility to create an inclusive, welcoming party... what's going on is cause for concern about our future prospects as a party," she said. "We are driving people away."

DeVos also made veiled threats there could be financial consequences for the party if the leadership doesn't address the situation with Agema.

Snyder acknowledged DeVos' comments Monday when talking with reporters.

"I appreciate her speaking up on the topic and again I'm not going to get into specific individuals," he said.

Curtis Hertel, the register of deeds for Ingham County, echoed Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson's frustrations with Michigan GOP leader's failure to condemn Agema.

Hertel said it's an issue that could very well leave a bad taste in voter's mouths come November.

"One of the reasons why people use these negative attacks is that is basically tempers excitement for an election and lowers turnout," Hertel said.

Agema responded to the mounting criticism with a post on Facebook Monday saying people are "feeding the news half truths," and he was wrongly being blamed for posting other people's comments to "encourage discourse."

The former Grandville state representative said he stands on the same issues he always has -- "God, family and country."


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