Perhaps Macomb County Treasurer Larry Rocca felt ignored in the face of constant media attention focused on his colleague, the embattled county Clerk Karen Spranger.
Or maybe the rookie treasurer gravitates toward politicians who are so unpopular that fellow officials clamor for their removal from office.
Whatever the reason, over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend Rocca suddenly latched onto the most repulsive, radioactive Republican in Michigan — former party official and state representative Dave Agema.
Known as Michigan’s foremost bigot due to his continuous online posts bashing blacks, gays and (especially) Muslims, Agema was ostracized throughout his 2014-16 tenure as a Republican National Committeeman to such an extent that those calling for his ouster or resignation ranged from the then-state party chair Bobby Schostack to then-national party chair Reince Priebus.
Agema, a west Michigan tea party Republican, eventually forfeited his seat on the RNC last year but he’s still at it, using Facebook as a platform to spew his hateful views. His Saturday post claimed that Muslims living in America are “the enemy within” who are trying to impose Shariah law on the U.S. Citing an Islamic theologian’s comments from 640 years ago, Agema wrote: “Islam is a killing machine like no other.”
Rocca, a Clinton Township Republican, was so pleased with Agema’s screed that he praised it in a Facebook comment: “More Americans need to understand the true facts presented by Dave Agema as he properly explains them.”
Like Spranger (a Republican from, possibly, Warren), Rocca was inexplicably elected last November in an election that continues to prove embarrassing to Macomb County voters.
A perennial candidate, Rocca has a history of legal troubles and has tried to cash in on the Rocca name for two decades, though he is not related to Sal, Sue or Tory – the Roccas who have served in the Legislature. In his 2008 bid to become the county’s tax collector, it was reported that Rocca had defaulted on a personal loan and suffered a court judgment to pay $26,000 to a bank. He was delinquent on his property taxes five times in a 10-year period. And he was fined by the state for improperly handling reserve accounts at his real estate office.
Now, as country treasurer, winning by the slimmest of margins, 50.2 to 49.8 percent, Rocca is serving a 4-year term as the caretaker of hundreds of millions of tax dollars. Voters should have known about his past because November marked Rocca’s third consecutive run for the treasurer seat. The first two times, in 2008 and 2012, he was handily defeated at the polls.