Amash challenger scrubs campaign website of bio information

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
State Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville

The state lawmaker who plans to challenge West Michigan U.S. Rep. Justin Amash in the Republican primary has been accused of misrepresenting how his college education was funded. 

State Rep. Jim Lower, R-Greenville, launched a campaign for Congress on Monday following remarks by Amash that President Donald Trump's conduct "has met the threshold of impeachment."

Lower's campaign announcement and website said that he "paid for his own education and supported himself by working full-time while getting both his undergraduate and graduate degrees."

A family friend, John Calley, disputed this statement in a Monday Facebook post:

"Why does Lower say he paid for his own education when it was literally my pop who paid his tuition in full??? And to then pretend like he did it on his own??" wrote Calley, the brother of former Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. 

"The more I look into this, the more it stinks." 

Lower replied to the post on Facebook later the same day:

"John thanks for catching this. Your dad is a great guy, and I've always appreciated him helping me out when I really needed it my first year of college," Lower wrote. 

"We'll get it updated. I believe the team was trying to make the point that I come from a working class background. In the lead up to the announcement, it got missed." 

A Facebook screenshot shows an exchange between state Rep. Jim Lower and John Calley, brother of Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

The line about Lower paying for his own education had been removed from his campaign website by Tuesday afternoon, along with the rest of his biographical information.

A spokesman for Lower said he paid for more than 90 percent of his education, which cost $120,000, and that Dr. Doyle Calley — father of Brian and John Calley — loaned him $10,000 during his freshman year. 

"This was a loan that he later gifted to Jim," spokesman Steve Mitchell said by email.

"Dr. Calley made it clear to Jim that he wanted this to be anonymous, which is why Jim did not mention it in his bio."

John Calley said his father worked at a factory while in college and developed a relationship with its owner, who ended up helping with his tuition. 

"So my dad returned the favor, in a 'pay it forward' sense," Calley wrote. 

Lower went on to graduate from Michigan State in three years, skipped a semester and went on to Grand Valley State University for a master's in business administration, Mitchell said. 

Lower has said his family struggled when his father lost his job after Electrolux moved its plant from Michigan to Mexico. 

"Brian and John were both very good friends, and Dr. Calley knew how tough things were. I have been forever grateful for that loan of $10,000 that he later converted to a gift," Lower said in a statement. 

"I have always honored his desire for anonymity on this gift, which is why I did not mention it. Dr. Calley is one of the finest, most generous men I have ever met. He gave me the ability to get through the first year and from there, working almost full time while a student, I paid the remaining $110,000 it took to get my education."

John Calley provided the following statement from his father, Doyle:

"My son came to me with the concern that his friend couldn't attend college, and I thought that it was a travesty that someone with James potential wouldn't be able to fulfill his dreams without assistance. So I paid for his first year. And I did forgive the loan."