Representative David Agema–who has drawn criticism for controversial statements calling for teachers to be armed to reduce threats of terrorism and school shootings and immigration–has been heavily supported by PACs according to a review of campaign finance records.
Since being elected last November, Grandville area Michigan House of Representatives member Dave Agema has made a number of controversial statements on Iraq, against immigration, and advocating for allowing teachers to be armed to deter terrorism and school shootings. Moreover, Agema has recently been criticized for taking an exotic hunting trip in Russia and missing critical discussions on the state budget.
One area that has been ignored in some of the focus on Agema has been how his campaign was funded. Agema raised over $60,000 dollars–the majority either coming from himself (a retired airline pilot) or various PACs–compared to $15,201 raised by his Democratic Party opponent, Steve Kauffman. Agema’s campaign committee was formed on March 28, 2006 for the purpose of attaining the office of 74th District representative to the Michigan House of Representatives. The “David Agema for State Representative Committee” held its funds at the Fifth Third Bank on Chicago Drive in Grandville. A Jenison resident named Steven Bouma functioned as the Committee’s treasurer during the election.
In his “Pre-Primary” report filed on July 25, 2006, Agema listed $30,020 in campaign contributions to his Committee, along with $483.73 in “in-kind” contribution. The “in-kind” contributions all came from Agema himself, while the cash campaign contributions came from a variety of sources, including Agema. Agema contributed $15,983.73 to the campaign at that report over half the total of the 91 contributions. Aside from Agema’s own contribution, the largest contribution was $2,000 from the Michigan Farm Bureau PAC. Agema also received $500 from the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and $250 from the Rental Property Owners Association, as well as $250 from the politically influential Richard DeVos. In a “Post-Primary” report, Agema listed an additional $2,000 in contributions, the majority of which ($1,750) came from influence groups including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce ($1,500) and Kentwood Senator Kevin Green’s Green Team Majority Fund ($250). In that report, Agema also listed a $250 contribution from Alticor (Amway) President Doug DeVos.
By his “Pre-General” report filed on October 24, 2006, Agema had received an additional $23,525 in campaign contributions, bringing his Committee’s total to $55,545. During the period, Agema contributed an additional $5,000 to his campaign, brining his total contributions to $21,144.78. However, a significant portion of his contributions during this period came from PACs. This included $3,000 from the Michigan Farm Bureau PAC, $1,000 from the MIBANK PAC, $1,000 from the Michigan Realtors Association’s “RPAC,” $1,000 from the Auto Dealers of Michigan PAC, $1,000 from the Michigan Health and Hospital Association’s Health PAC, $1,000 from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s BCBSM PAC, $500 from the Insurance and Financial Advisors PAC, $500 from the Green Majority Fund, $300 from the Michigan Restaurant Association PAC, $250 from the Fifth Third Bancorp PAC, $200 from the Pharmacy Action Council PAC, $200 from the Michigan Society of Anesthesiologists, $150 from the Michigan Optometric Association PAC, $100 from the Michigan Osteopathic PAC, and $100 from the Cliffsmich PAC, $100 from Michigan Business Aviation Association, Other advocacy groups including Friends of Spectrum Health ($250), the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce ($250), Friends of Grand Valley ($200), and Friends of Housing ($100) also made contributions to the campaign. All told, contributions from PACs, advocacy groups, or other candidate’s campaigns were responsible for $12,000 of his $23,525 in contributions during this period. Various politically collected individuals from the DeVos and VanAndel families also made additional contributions during this period, including $250 from Douglas DeVos, $75 from Stephen Van Andel, and $50 from Cynthia Van Andel. Late filings revealed an additional $1,200 in contributions from the Associated Builders PAC, the KAROUB Associates PAC, the Michigan Optometric Association PAC, and the MORBAN PAC.
Agema’s final report lists an additional $6,795 in contributions, bringing his total to $62,582.45 for the election cycle. Again, the overwhelming majority of these contributions came from PACs, other candidate committees, and advocacy groups. Contributions during this period included $4,000 from the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers PAC, $500 from the “23 is Enough” PAC, $500 from the Associated Builders of Michigan PAC, $300 from the Karoub Associates PAC, $250 from the Michigan Propane Gas Association PAC, $200 from the Michigan Optometric Association PAC, $200 from the MORBAN PAC, $150 from the School Administrators PAC, $100 from the Daimler Chrysler Corporation PAC, $100 from the Deputy Sheriff’s Star PAC, and $100 from the MASCO Corporation PAC.