Republican members of the Mississippi Legislature are condemning remarks made by Representative Gene Alday of Walls over the weekend. But other lawmakers say Alday's comments may be part of a larger problem in the Capitol.
Republican Representative Gene Alday of Desoto County is in hot water due to comments he recently made to a newspaper. In the Clarion Ledger article, Alday made a reference toward African Americans in his home town of Walls saying "all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call `welfare crazy checks." He also said "They don't work."
While repeated attempts to contact Representative Alday went unanswered, he has reportedly told others that his remarks were taken out context. But some African American members of the House are not buying it. Representative Robert Johnson of Natchez says there's concern Alday's comments may reflect the reason behind a broader Republican opposition to issues like fully funding public education and medicaid expansion.
"What concerns me is that he's a voting member of the House of Representatives," says Johnson. "We have not been able to pass legislation on those particular issues, and a majority of the people in the Legislature and the House of Representatives are Republican. It makes me concerned that we need to step back and take a look at what else might be going on other than what we see at face value on these issues."
Many top-level Republicans in the state are also rejecting Alday’s remarks. Governor Phil Bryant says the days of condemning any Mississippian based on their race are long past. Speaker of the House Phil Gunn says Alday's remarks do not reflect the views of the Republican party, nor of the leadership of the House of Representatives. It remains unclear if any action will be taken against the Representative.