LANSING (Detroit Free Press) - Gov. Rick Snyder today praised former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman and major GOP donor Betsy DeVos for speaking out against Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, but did not join her in calling for Agema to resign.
"I appreciate Betsy DeVos speaking up," Snyder told reporters after speaking at a Martin Luther King Day luncheon at the Lansing Center.
However, "I'm not going to get into specific individuals," Snyder said. "I'm sticking with my call across the board for civility and respect towards others."
Agema, a former Republican state representative from Grandville, has been at the center of ongoing controversy over repeated anti-gay and anti-Muslim public comments and postings he has made on social media and elsewhere.
Agema, as he has in the past, said on social media Sunday night that he had been taken out of context, adding "political correctness is taking the place of free speech via fear and intimidation." He did not return e-mails and phone calls from the Free Press.
DeVos, who is also from western Michigan, told The Detroit News for a story Sunday she's left phone messages for Agema urging him to resign. She said she also called RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and asked him to either find a way to remove Agema or marginalize him.
Agema "has damaged his position and his party," said DeVos, the spouse of 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick Devos and a former Michigan representative on the RNC.
"Leaders have a responsibility to create an inclusive, welcoming party, not to exclude."
Snyder refused to address Agema specifically. "I want to make sure I'm making a general statement that applies to more than any one single individual," he told reporters.
"It's clear there are other cases of people making negative, derogatory comments."
The controversy continues as the RNC prepares to meet this week in Washington, D.C.
Agema said on Facebook Sunday night he had just returned from eight days out of the country on vacation.
"While I was gone It seems the same people are feeding half truths to the news within the GOP, stirring up divisiveness," Agema said.
"I stand on the same issues I always have God -- family and country. There are times I have posted or linked an article to encourage discourse. This does not constitute endorsement of that position, but some capture a controversial snippet and allege those are my words.
"It is an unfortunate and uncivil tactic meant to ruin a person's reputation," Agema said.
Snyder made a call for greater civility and tolerance in his State of the State address on Thursday, again without mentioning Agema by name.
Today at the MLK Day event, Snyder renewed his call for "civility and respect for people of all backgrounds and different views."
"It's disappointing that I had to make that call because of comments being made by certain people out in public," Snyder said at the event in Lansing to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Free Press staff writer Todd Spangler contributed.