UPDATE: About an hour after I published this blog post, I got a message from Lt. Gov. Calley’s wife, Julie, indicating that the LG will not be attending this event. The lieutenant governor followed up a few hours later with an email confirming that he was cancelling his appearance at the fundraiser. Some hours after that, candidate Triston Cole removed Calley’s name from the online advertisement for the fundraiser.
This is the original post from early Sunday afternoon:
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley has selected the strangest of Republican fundraising events to attend on Monday — one where the location, a northern Michigan farm, was reportedly raided by federal authorities in July; where the candidate who will benefit from the $50-per-person event has been called a racist and has backing from the infamous Dave Agema; and where the previous-generation owner of the family farm hid his service with the German Nazi forces during World War II.
Wow. Could there possibly be a more toxic convergence of events that would keep the LG away when its just three weeks until an extremely close gubernatorial election?
Nonetheless, Calley will be the featured headliner at a fundraiser for a state House candidate at the Friske Orchards in the town of Ellsworth. As first reported on a tea party politics show aired on Patriot Voice Radio, the farm was raided on July 7 by heavily armed federal agents in 10 SUVs with blacked-out tinted windows.
The federal authorities reportedly “rammed in the front door of the farmhouse where 10 migrant workers were arrested and hauled away.” According to the Lansing-based MIRS newsletter, proprietor Richard Friske declined comment on the circumstances behind the raid.
The candidate, Republican Triston Cole, told MIRS that the
fundraiser is being held at the market, which is separate from the orchard. A governor’s office spokesperson didn’t return an e-mail from the news service for comment.
A Mancelona farmer and semi-truck driver, Cole continues to face criticism for what many believe were racially tinged remarks in his last campaign, according to the Petoskey News.
The News reported that at a 2010 candidate forum blamed the “black leadership” in Detroit for the city’s woes. A recording of the event showed that Cole said black officials had used government benefits to subjugate their constituents and, by doing so, they “perpetuate their power by keeping the population of Detroit under their thumb.”
It should be noted that Cole is supported by Republican National Committee member Dave Agema, the former state representative who faced many months of criticism for remarks he embraced on Facebook that were viewed as homophobic and racist — and based on blatant misinformation.
Agema gave Cole a $300 campaign contribution last December, which means the RNC representative chose sides in the 105th House District’s GOP primary long before the field was settled.
And then there’s this: The original owner of the farm and orchard where Calley will speak, the late Richard Friske Sr., apparently hid his service in Hitler’s German Air Force for decades by simply telling folks that he was a World War II veteran. Friske served as a state House member in Lansing from 1970-72, until, it seems, his past caught up with him and his political career ended.
If Calley keeps up this kind of scheduling, his political career may soon be over too.
The real head-scratcher in this whole jumbled-up mess is, why would Calley, who is despised by many tea party and far-right Republicans, go within 100 miles of a fundraiser for an Agema-style candidate?