Sen. Chris Buttars, R-South Jordan, is being asked to resign by the leader of the Utah NAACP over comments they perceive were racist.
During debate Tuesday on SB48, legislation relating to capital outlay as school districts split, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, called the bill an “ugly baby.” Other senators picked up on the metaphor in their remarks and Buttars stood and quipped “This baby is black. It is a dark and ugly thing.”
Rep. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, approached Utah State Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, saying the remark was a breach of decorum. Valentine spoke with Buttars, who apologized when the Senate reconvened.
“On the equalization discussion I got a little carried away and I made a comment that I think a lot of people could take as racist. I certainly did not mean that in any way but it was wrong and certainly could easily have been taken that way, but it was wrong and could easily be taken as just that way,” Buttars said. “I apologize to the quorum. I apologize to anyone who took offense. In no way did I mean that to be degrading in any way. I got my mouth a little bit ahead of my brain here as far as trying to express the way I felt. I ask for your forgiveness.”
Buttars immediately left the building after the session was over for the day.
Utah NAACP President Jeanetta Williams, told The Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday night that she accepted his apology. She later remembered Buttars’ remarks of last year on NPR affiliate KCPW where Buttars said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Brown v. Board of Education was “wrong to begin with.”
Williams has left a message for Buttars asking for a meeting, and said she would follow with a formal letter afterward.
National news syndicate United Press International picked up on the story, spreading it nationwide.