A Nevada State legislator took the principle of constituent service to a whole new level when he told a gathering of Republicans in August that if the folks who voted for him wanted it, he’d vote for laws to bring back human slavery.
Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler of Gardnerville now says that he was just exaggerating to make a point, and that “liberals” are trying to smear him by circulating a video of his remarks, made to a group of Storey County Republicans two months ago.
That video appears to have been now removed from YouTube, where it was spotted by Laura Martin, communications director at the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.
Most of Martin’s remarks in the clip concerned the mining industry, which is a major focus for the Progressive Alliance group. But when Martin heard Wheeler deliver his odd remark, she immediately tweeted, “Just saw a video of Jim Wheeler saying he’d vote to bring back slavery if his constituents wanted it.”
“If that’s what they wanted, I’d have to hold my nose, I’d have to bite my tongue and they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah, if that’s what the citizens of the, if that’s what the constituency wants that elected me, that’s what they elected me for,” Wheeler reportedly articulated in the clip. “That’s what a republic is about. You elected a person for your district to do your wants and wishes, not the wants and wishes of a special interest, not his own wants and wishes, yours.”
When the Las Vegas Sun followed up with Wheeler to figure out what he was talking about, the legislator scoffed.
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard if anyone could even fathom believing it,” he told the paper. “I don’t care if every constituent in [Assembly] District 39 wanted slavery, I wouldn’t vote for it. That’s ridiculous.”
His slavery remarks came in a discussion about a bill that allows DNA tests on anyone arrested for a felony. Wheeler said he opposed the bill but was voting for it anyway because his constituents wanted him to. When someone asked if he would vote to bring back slavery if that was what his constituents wanted, Wheeler said, “Yeah, I would.”
The Republican lawmaker immediately came under attack from within his own party.
The state’s Republican governor condemned Wheelers remarks as “deeply offensive.” State Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson slammed them as “outrageous, embarrassing and just plain sad.” U.S. Senator Dean Heller, another Republican, deemed the comments “insensitive and wrong.”
Sources: Las Vegas Sun, Reno Gazette Journal