Calley defends state GOP’s black outreach director

The Michigan Republican Party is staying out of an online feud between GOP activists and director of African-American engagement Wayne Bradley, but some notable officials are defending him against attacks.

Bradley “is a good and courageous man,” Lt. Gov. Brian Calley wrote on Facebook. “I respect him immensely. When he offers an opinion, I listen closely. The Michigan Republican Party is lucky to have him.”

As The Detroit News first reported Monday, a band of GOP activists loyal to President Donald Trump are calling on Bradley to resign after he criticized a presidential pardon, blasted Confederate monuments and defended the right of football player Colin Kaepernick to kneel during the national anthem as protest against the treatment of African Americans.

But other Republicans rose to Bradley’s defense this week on Facebook, including former Michigan GOP Youth Chair Blake Edmonds, who now works with U.S. Senate candidate Lena Epstein’s campaign.

Bradley “has done more to grow the Party than most people I know and is someone you can always count on to give it to you straight,” Edmonds wrote. “I’m with Wayne!”

Linda Lee Tarver, former ethnic vice chair for the Michigan GOP, said Bradley has done “a phenomenal job” on black outreach but said he has expressed views “on certain things that are contrary to the position of the party he works for.”

“That’s what some people are taking exception to,” said Tarver, president of the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan. “…I think he’s passionate, but I think it’s misplaced, and what he says matters.”

Rogers slams Trump

Retired Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Howell also had strong words for Donald Trump recently, criticizing the president for his attacks on GOP members of Congress this month.

“You know, it’s exasperating,” Rogers said on CNN last week. “If you really want to try to do some the things people wanted Donald Trump to do, when you talk about infrastructure improvement, when you talk tax reform and tax relief, when you talk about the big picture of getting some free-market ideas back into the health care debate, all of that seems to be lost on this president.”

“It’s just shockingly bad,” added Rogers, who was interviewed by the administration this year to head the FBI.

Rogers went on to describe how former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, was more effective when he first came into the White House than Trump has been.

Trump “put on the boxing gloves and just started whacking away. It will stop his ability to get his agenda done, and I don’t know why he doesn’t understand that,” Rogers said.

GOP puppets take stage

The liberal group Progress Michigan is using puppet mockups of U.S. Reps. Dave Trott of Birmingham, Mike Bishop of Rochester and Fred Upton of St. Joseph to stand in for the congressmen at town hall-style meetings that the group is hosting this summer.

The three Republicans have been criticized by Progress Michigan this year for not holding in-person town halls with constituents and for their support for the GOP House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Progress Michigan ordered the dolls from for use at the town halls, said Sam Inglot, a spokesman for the group. The dolls symbolize the politicians as “puppets” for the Republican Party and corporate interests, Inglot said.

Oprah interviews Amash

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, was spotted at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum in Grand Rapids last week with Oprah Winfrey.

Photos published by west Michigan’s FOX-17 showed Amash and Winfrey chatting outside the museum on Aug. 23.

Joel Westphal, deputy director of the library and museum, confirmed the pair’s visit, saying museum officials were aware that Amash would be in the building. Amash has been a regular visitor over the years, as was his predecessor, the late Rep. Vern Ehlers, Westphal said.

For more, Westphal referred us to Amash’s office and CBS’ “60 Minutes,” where Winfrey is a contributing correspondent.

Amash’s office wouldn’t share details. A representative for “60 Minutes” said its policy is to not comment on stories it’s pursuing.

Snyder: Haters still allowed to speak

Gov. Rick Snyder suggested Tuesday that he would not stop a white supremacist rally on the Capitol steps in the hypothetical event that one were to be planned.

There are currently no public plans for such a rally, but Snyder said – after local Lansing television reporter Tim Skubick asked – that he doesn’t think it’s possible to stop any gathering, although he has not specifically looked into the issue previously.

While Snyder said “hate speech is not welcome in this state,” he suggested lawmakers and the governor still have a responsibility to uphold the Constitution, which specifically enshrines the right to peaceably assemble.

“I haven’t specifically looked at that question,” the governor said. “But again, hate speech is not welcome in this state. It’s a terrible thing. It’s not morally right. It exists. So it’s important that we at the same time respect the Constitution.”

The issue has been a hot topic after a counter-protester was killed this month at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

About two weeks ago, Michigan State University denied a request from a group headed by white nationalist Richard Spencer from hosting an event on campus.

Peters joins new caucus

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, has joined the bipartisan Senate Working Forests Caucus, which aims to promote the benefits of private working forests and educate policymakers about them.

“Working forests” are those producing the supply of trees used in wood, paper and pulp-based products. More than 20 million forested acres support Michigan’s $18 billion forest-products industry, employing over 87,000 people, according to Peters’ office.

“Forests play an important role in the lives of Michiganders, both as a critical resource for economic growth and a natural wonder that provides unique recreational opportunities and habitat for diverse wildlife,” Peters said in a statement.

“I am pleased to join the Working Forests Caucus to ensure that the benefits of forests as renewable natural resources are considered in the policy-making process.”

Contributors: Melissa Nanne Burke, Jonathan Oosting and Michael Gerstein