Minnesota GOP lawmaker apologizes for NBA tweet

By BRIAN BAKST Published: March 10, 2014
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota lawmaker apologized Monday for his tweet about NBA players that some saw as racist, saying he was rightly held accountable for inaccurate stereotyping.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, a fifth-term Republican from the St. Paul suburb of Farmington, tweeted Sunday night: “Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime,” Garofalo tweeted Sunday night.

Garofalo initially stuck by his words even after they drew hundreds of negative comments and more than 1,000 retweets, insisting they were misinterpreted. About three-fourths of the NBA’s players are black, according to a 2013 report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

But in his statement Monday, he said he’d reconsidered.

“I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized,” said Garofalo, who’s seeking a sixth term in the fall. “The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize.”

Garofalo also apologized for remarks about the NBA’s policy on drug enforcement, saying it was stronger than he believed. Later, he told reporters that he didn’t have a racial motivation for the tweet.

“I don’t have a racist bone in my body. I pride myself on the fact I’ve tutored in inner-city Minneapolis,” Garofalo said, adding there are “no excuses. I apologize. I’m responsible for actions.”

Sunday’s blunt Twitter commentary was nothing new for Garofalo, who regularly makes sharp-tongued speeches on the Minnesota House floor and even edgier remarks online.

His Twitter feed is a mix of sarcastic takes on politics, pop culture and sports. During football and NASCAR seasons, he offers his predictions via his pet whom he dubs “Buddy The Sports Gambling Dog.”

“If the bird watching, hippy, tofu-eating vegan liberals in Minneapolis had their way, the Iron Range never would have mined taconite either,” he tweeted last month, referring to a statewide debate over a copper-nickel mine project proposed for northern Minnesota.

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