State Representative Leaves Budget Talks To Go Hunting

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (AP) -- A state lawmaker has taken a break from the ongoing state budget talks to hunt snow sheep in Russia.
Rep. David Agema stayed in session until 4 a.m. Saturday and voted three times against a proposal by Democrats to raise the state income tax before leaving on the two-week trip, said his chief of staff, Karen Spoelman. The House of Representatives worked without a resolution throughout the weekend.
The Grandville Republican had planned the trip for three years, long before he was elected to his first House term last November, said Trevor Pittsley, a member of Agema's staff. The representative had a 100 percent voting record on 360 House votes before missing a vote taken Saturday and two votes taken Tuesday, according to the Web site.
Agema informed House Speaker Andy Dillon, a Democrat, as well as House Republican Leader Rep. Craig DeRoche, Spoelman told The Grand Rapids Press for a story published Wednesday.
"The speaker assured Dave this would be a good time to go. He was assured things would be worked out," Pittsley said.
Dillon's office, however, said he was not informed.
"Not only was it not cleared with our office, but we were unaware until we found out that he was gone," said Dillon spokesman Greg Bird. "The speaker says that he had no idea that the representative was going to be taking a trip."
Agema's absence was listed as not excused. Only Dillon has the power to excuse an absence.
"Dillon's a liar," Spoelman responded, insisting that Agema spoke directly with the speaker. "Dillon was fully aware this was happening."
Phyllis Washburn, DeRoche's press secretary, said the Republican leader has "known for a long time" about Agema's trip.
"We knew when he was coming in that he was going to miss these weeks," she said. "The timing is unfortunate."
Agema, 58, a retired fighter pilot and machine shop consultant, would have lost thousands of dollars by canceling the trip, Spoelman said. Russian snow sheep hunting expeditions can be very expensive.
"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," Spoelman said. "He was faced with a very difficult decision. He was around all spring, all summer."
Agema's chief of staff was not certain where in Russia her boss had gone.
"It's so remote, we can't even get in touch with him," Spoelman said.

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  • by John Location: Jackson on Sep 20, 2007 at 06:20 PM
    Look at and decide who has missed more votes. I can see why the speaker of the house did not notice he was missing. Rep Dillion has missed 35 votes. There has been 46 reps who have missed 2 or less votes.
  • by David Location: Charlotte on Sep 20, 2007 at 10:32 AM
    Is it right to let something as inportant as the states budget go? On the other hand I would jump at the chance to go to Russia Id love to go fishing over there so what is more inportant to you There have been many times ive had to give up something fun because of work or family or whatever. Where are your prioritys would the samething be as inportant if an Dem. did it or would it get the same news? I dont think that he should have left Russia will always be there and I dont think that snow sheep are indangered. When a person becomes a public official he has a duty to the pepol that has elected him into office. And something as inportant as the states budget is a top priority.
  • by MI Taxpayer Location: Lansing on Sep 20, 2007 at 06:07 AM
    Do you think this guy would have a spastic fit if the worker flipping his burger took a break while he was waiting for it? What a loser. Please vote this guy out of office and off the planet if possible.
  • by dan Location: detroit on Sep 20, 2007 at 05:52 AM
    I'm a hunter to.I hunt to help feed my family.A trip like this ,I or many could not afford.shows he makes good money,and like most in high money jobs thinks of himself first.he may end up with that snow sheep on his wall,so be it,but I can't plan a vacation 3 years ahead, I may not have a job by then.and I've had to cancel things when my job required me there instead of where I wanted to be.He must feel very secure in his I can do what I want job.apparently he has put a wall trophy as more important than the state budget or anything his vote would help or hurt.when they get away with these little things,what will they also get away with.if he planned this 3 yrs ahead with no money back if I can't go was foolish on his part.I don't see him as a good bussines person.just thinks of that minute,not down the road.he's to easily talked into things.who ever sold him the trip with no refund was pretty smart.beware of what we sign.if tommorrow would of never came,he'd still lost his money.
  • by Travis Carr Location: Stockbridge on Sep 19, 2007 at 08:27 PM
    Firstly, anyone that thinks that it is okay for a state representative to not do their job is exactly the type of selfish person that has gotten our state into this position in the first place. You need to realize that there are some things bigger and more important than your "relaxation and down time." Secondly, if we are going to continue to let our representatives do as they be it, but at least let them know that there will be some sort of consequence. For instance, if you are not there to cast your vote, you do not get one. Do those who fail to vote during the presidential election get to vote a week after it is done or have it postponed? No. It should be the same for this. Lastly, it is a little hard for me to take any comment seriously if you cannot type and/or spell correctly. The only way we are going to get out of this funk, not only in this state, but our country as well; is if we, as a people, can think for ourselves in an intelligent way. Get involved!!
  • by don Location: Mi. on Sep 19, 2007 at 08:27 PM
    Maybe he should of took Granholm with him and she could of brought some high paying jobs back she is always wasting tax payer money on.
  • by Steve Location: Lansing on Sep 19, 2007 at 08:08 PM
    He has a job, and a responsibility. If he cannot understand that, he should resigned. The fact he planned it for 3 years is meaningless. He has had plenty of time to rearrange it. He and his fellow Republicans have also had plenty of time to have solved the problem they created during the Engler years.
  • by David Location: MI on Sep 19, 2007 at 06:00 PM
    Switch positions for a sec. with this rep. Would you want to lose thousands of dollars because of something like this?
  • by Ethan Location: Okemos on Sep 19, 2007 at 05:40 PM
    I would be hard pressed to tell someone to cancel a trip that was scheduled three years into the future to a country like Russia. Besides the state should be totally shut down by the time he gets back anyway. His vote either way isn't going to get this bickering lot any further I'm sure.
  • by Theron Unrath Location: Lansing on Sep 19, 2007 at 05:37 PM
    So what he went hunting, it was three years in the making. Did he know three years ago that our state was going down this road ( no ). He missed one vote, if I was in his place I would have done the same thing. The trip was planed and paid for and you know any one of you would have done the same thing. Now someone leaked it to the media to make a name for them self then to that I call you a snitch and no one like a snitch.
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