GOP lawmakers, Virginia leader ask RNC to oust Agema

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Michigan Republican lawmakers and the head of the Virginia Republican Party stepped up pressure on the Republican National Committee Tuesday to find a way to oust embattled national committeeman Dave Agema at the RNC's winter meeting this week in San Diego.

Oakland County Sens. Mike Kowall and Jim Marleau and Rep. Jim Tedder sent the Republican Party's 168-member governing board a letter Tuesday pleading that it "end our party's long nightmare" and remove Agema and his "hateful rhetoric" from the RNC.

Separately, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof issued a statement Tuesday calling for Agema to resign after a string of public and social media outbursts that critics have decried as racist and homophobic.

In addition, the 14th Congressional District of the Michigan Republican Party — which covers parts of Oakland and Wayne counties — voted Tuesday night to ask Agema to resign "for his inappropriate conduct" and to request the RNC "use its autohority to terminate his membership...."

Agema is again under fire by fellow Republicans for posting an article on Facebook on New Year's Eve from a white supremacist magazine that demeans African-Americans.

"When the ignorance and stupidity of one individual overshadows the good work done by so many other Republicans, it is incumbent upon those of us who know better to speak up and demand accountability," Meekhof, R-West Olive, said Tuesday. "Dave Agema clearly has no shame, otherwise he would have already resigned."

RNC members are meeting Wednesday through Friday in San Diego for their annual winter meeting. For more than a year, Agema has resisted resignation calls from top Republican leaders. Officials have said they don't have the power to remove him, short of a felony conviction.

Pat Mullins, chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, circulated his own letter to members of the RNC Tuesday that said "it is time for us to take a stand against Dave Agema."

"I realize this is unprecedented," Mullins wrote. "...But we cannot sit back and allow Mr. Agema to further damage our Republican Party."

Time magazine reports that Mullins is supporting a resolution at Wednesday's Resolutions Committee meeting that calls for Agema's resignation. If the panel approves, the full RNC woud vote on it Friday.

Agema, from Grandville, has resisted previous calls to resign his seat on the Republican Party's governing body after distributing articles on Facebook making insulting comments about gays and questioning the contributions of Muslims to American life. Agema did not return a message Tuesday seeking comment.

Last fall, Agema was criticized by a Muslim advocacy group for referring to people of Middle East ancestry as "camel jockeys."

"I think most of the people are going to sign that letter because for the most part we're not happy with what Agema is doing," Kowall, R-White Lake Township, told The Detroit News.

'Hateful rhetoric'

A copy of the letter, obtained by The News, says the RNC can use parliamentary procedures to expel Agema from national meetings, temporarily or permanently. Agema's four-year term on the RNC ends next year.

"While we are disappointed it has come down to this, we believe this course of action is the only way to stop Mr. Agema's hateful rhetoric from further tarnishing our party," Kowall, Marleau and Tedder wrote in the letter.

After earlier attempts to pressure Agema to resign as Michigan's lone GOP national committeeman, some Republicans have tried to ignore his commentary.

"I've tried to not acknowledge this, but it's gotten the point where like-minded people need to step up and say enough is enough," said Kowall, Senate majority floor leader.

'Very interesting'

The most recent article Agema recommended his Facebook friends read included passages by a purported public defender attorney who said his black clients "cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike."

"Very interesting article by a public defender," Agema wrote in a Facebook post that he later deleted. "We are in a cultural battle. Very enlightening for anyone who is concerned about crime in America..."

On Monday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder condemned Agema's latest social media musing, but stopped short of saying Agema should step down from the unpaid party leadership post.

State GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and other GOP leaders have previously called on Agema to resign.

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