The Oklahoma Black Legislative Caucus is calling on Governor Keating to retract racially charged remarks he made Thursday at the State Capitol and apologize.
In a media event staged by the Governor, Keating told reporters that Senator Angela Monson and Democratic leaders would be making a "racist statement" if Monson did not advance the appointment of Russell Perry as Secretary of Commerce.
As chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Monson controls the appointment of Perry. She has decided not to confirm Perry, saying she questions whether the job created for Perry is a good expenditure of taxpayer dollars.
Both Perry and Monson are African-American.
"The Governor has edged close to racism before, but this time he's crossed the line. For an affluent white male like Frank Keating to imply that an African-American woman is a racist simply because she has objections to a political appointee is disrespectful, insulting and wrong. I'll be happy to debate Governor Keating any day on what really constitutes racism," said Rep. Opio Toure.
The remarks were made by Governor Keating after he notified members of the media about a "private" visit he planned to make to Senator Monson's office. Senator Monson, who was never informed that Keating was going to visit her, was busy working on legislation in the House when the Governor arrived. With members of the media in tow, Governor Keating conducted a press conference instead, insinuating that Monson would be guilty of racism if she didn't confirm his appointee.
"Governor Keating tried to ambush Senator Monson in front of the media and when she wasn't there, he went on a name-calling spree instead. If the Governor were really interested in meeting privately, he wouldn't have notified the media beforehand. He wanted to embarrass Senator Monson, but he ended up embarrassing himself with the racial remarks he made," said Senator Maxine Horner.
This isn't the first time Governor Keating has been called on the carpet or racial remarks. During his first year in office, he came under fire for suggesting that his life as a Catholic Republican was comparable to that of African-Americans in the segregated South of the 1960's. The
Governor has also been criticized for his failure to appoint Oklahoma minorities to various state positions.
"When it comes to race relations, Governor Keating's record hasn't been the greatest. While I am sure that he will insist that he meant nothing by his latest remark, I would remind him that he's not looking at it from our perspective as African Americans. He doesn't understand the pain he causes when he carelessly tosses around racial remarks and innuendoes," said Rep. Don Ross.
The Black Legislative Caucus is calling on Governor Keating to make a public apology with all the media fanfare that accompanied his original racial remark.
"Governor Keating made sure all the cameras were rolling when he marched into Senator Monson's office to stage his media event. He should have the courage to stand in front of those same cameras and microphones when he issues his apology," said Rep. Kevin Cox.