PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker apologized Thursday for a series of online
posts that many Democrats and civil rights activists viewed as racially
Republican Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff criticized Attorney General Eric Holder
for proposing changes to the nation’s sentencing laws, suggesting he did so to
benefit fellow blacks. He also posted a tweet supporting a Missouri rodeo clown
who riled up a crowd as a masked man imitating President Barack Obama.
It marked the latest in a series of missteps that prompted apologies by the
freshman lawmaker since he took office in January. They include sending a blast
email to opponents of Medicaid that prompted threats to Republican backers of
its expansion in Arizona, a proposal to require loyalty oaths for high school
graduates and a canceled plan to sell bullet-proof vests out of the basement of
the state Capitol.
House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, rebuked Thorpe for the Medicaid emailthat
prompted a public apology. Tobin’s spokesman said he did the same thing after
learning of Thorpe’s latest action, calling him and telling him he was
“dismayed and disappointed” and suggesting he apologize.
Thorpe’s Thursday apology came after his comments on Twitter drew fire from
Democratic lawmakers and a Phoenix civil rights activist. He later shut down
public access to his posts.
Thorpe declined to comment beyond a statement saying he “never intended to be
insensitive or divisive.”
“I acknowledge that they were poorly worded and did not reflect what I
genuinely wanted to communicate about recent national news stories,” Thorpe
wrote. “Although I never intended to be insensitive or divisive, I quickly
realized that my tweets were causing a few readers to believe that my motives
were not as I intended them to appear.”
Thorpe, a tea party conservative with no previous political experience, has
called his previous missteps “rookie mistakes.”
Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, said at some point Thorpe’s actions go beyond
“It’s the same tactic that hardcore conservatives have been using for a long
time, it’s race baiting,” Quezada said. “It’s making people afraid of certain
groups and using statistics that have multiple different explanations to justify