TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas legislator said Thursday that he regrets sharing a post on Facebook that mocked Hispanics who speak accented English to make a derogatory comment about President Barack Obama.
Rep. John Bradford, a Lansing Republican, said in a statement that sharing the post this week was "in bad taste."
The posting on the Conservative Country community Facebook page featured a photo of a man wearing a sombrero and a headline, "Mexican words of the day." It then jokingly fashioned unrelated words into a mock sentence in heavily accented English that celebrated Obama's leaving office in January 2017. It also included an altered picture of the Democratic president.
The posting received additional attention because Bradford was among nine GOP conservatives who last year filed a formal complaint against Democratic Rep. Valdenia Winn of Kansas City over remarks she made during a House Education Committee meeting. Winn described supporters of a bill denying in-state tuition to people who are in the U.S. illegally as "racist bigots."
Several Democrats and Pedro Irigonegaray, a prominent Topeka attorney and Cuban immigrant, described Bradford's posting as racist. Irigonegaray and Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said the GOP-dominated House should investigate and consider disciplinary action.
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"Kansans should not have to tolerate this type of bigoted mentality from anyone, especially an elected official," said former state Rep. Melody McCray-Miller, the Kansas Democratic Party's vice chairwoman.
The original posting was Sunday, and the Wichita Eagle reported that Bradford shared it Tuesday. Bradford removed it from his Facebook page by Thursday afternoon, but Hensley's statement included an image of Bradford's post.
"I did not create the image, but I did share it, which was in bad taste. I regret that decision," Bradford said in his statement, declining to say more in a later telephone call with The Associated Press.
Bradford released his statement through House Speaker Ray Merrick's office. Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, didn't issue a separate statement or respond publicly to calls for an investigation of the posting.
When Bradford and other GOP conservatives filed their complaint against Winn last year, Merrick was required under the House rules to appoint a bipartisan investigating committee. Winn is black; Bradford is white, but two of the nine lawmakers filing the complaint also are black.
Bradford and the other Republicans saw Winn's comments as an unfair and inappropriate criticism of committee members. In response to objections during the meeting, Winn said she was referring to "supporters" of the immigration legislation but added, "If the shoe fits, it fits."
The investigating committee dismissed the complaint in June on free speech grounds.