Lawmaker offers apology for remark

Updated: March 10, 2014, 4:18 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- 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.

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.

-- Rep. Pat Garofalo

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 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, Garofalo 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 my 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.

Despite his tendency for partisan rhetoric, Garofalo departed from conservative orthodoxy on at least one major issue. Last year, he was one of four House Republicans who voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage.

That vote complicated the re-election campaigns of the other Republicans he joined in support of same-sex marriage, and two are no longer seeking to return to the Legislature. But Garofalo won his local GOP endorsement last month and has plenty of money banked for his race.

He also has backed stadium initiatives for the Twin Cities' professional sports teams, voting in favor of both the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins stadium bills. The Vikings bill also gave the city of Minneapolis clearance to upgrade the arena where the state's NBA team -- the Minnesota Timberwolves -- play.

The Timberwolves were reluctant to comment on the situation when approached by reporters after practice.

"That has nothing to do with us," coach Rick Adelman said. "I don't see any reason anybody has to say anything about it. I've never even heard of the guy. I don't know who he is."

"The public's reaction speaks for itself," shooting guard Kevin Martin said.

The last time a Timberwolves player ran into legal trouble was in 2010, when Michael Beasley, who's now with the Miami Heat, was ticketed for speeding and possessing marijuana in a Twin Cities suburb.


Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.