West Michigan area Representative Dave Agema (Republican, Grandville) is in Russia on a two-week snow sheep hunting expedition while his colleagues in the Michigan House of Representatives are debating a plan to address Michigan’s $1.75 billion budget deficit. The story was reported in the Grand Rapids Press today, and while such items are usually best ignored, it is worth noting in light of Agema’s overall extremism. Agema has repeatedly attacked immigrants, suggested that public school teachers be armed, and has dismissed the torture of detainees in Iraq. Somehow, the fact that he is skipping out on a critical budget discussion to go on a Russian snow sheep hunting expedition–which can cost upwards of $20,000 according to the Press–seems fitting.
Agema’s chief of staff said that he informed the House several months ago and that he was assured that this would be a good time to go. Nevertheless, Agema’s absence is listed as “unexcused” and there has been the usual partisan sniping over whether or not he told the House leadership of his planned absence. Fortunately, while this is the type of borderline irrelevant news that political reporters love to cover, a Press reporter did do a follow-up to Agema’s call for allowing teachers to be armed in which it reported that Agema’s plan has been largely dismissed by school administrators.