Alabama state senator Scott Beason (R), who sponsored the state’s tough new immigration law, has been caught on tape referring to black customers of a casino as “aborigines.” Beason made the inaccurate comparison while wearing audio recording equipment for the FBI as part of an investigation into a group of people accused of buying and selling pro-gambling votes in the legislature. The Associated Press reports:
In one transcript, Beason and two other Republican legislators were talking about economic development in predominantly black Greene County and the customers at one of the county’s largest employers, the Greenetrack casino in Eutaw.
“That’s y’all’s Indians,” one Republican said.
“They’re aborigines, but they’re not Indians,” Beason replied. [...]
The transcripts also showed Beason and other Republicans talking about what would happen if the legislation to protect electronic bingo casinos were approved by the Legislature and placed before voters in the election in November 2010. They speculated that casino owners would offer free meals and free bus rides to get black voters to the polls.
Under questioning, Beason said they were concerned that a large black turnout would hurt Republican candidates.
When pressed on his comments, Beason explained, “I don’t know what I meant at the time.” “I don’t use that term normally. I don’t know where it even came from that day,” he said in federal court. Democrats have called on Beason to resign. The federal judge in the bingo trial case will allow defense lawyers to question witnesses about Beason’s “racially charged” statements.
Back in February, Beason warned Republicans that immigration will “destroy a community” and advised his colleagues to “empty the clip and do what has to be done.” Beason later insisted that his comments were taken out of context and that he was using an analogy, not urging violence. He has also been leading the charge to redraw district lines in a way that would significantly dilute the power of black voters.