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Garofalo loses chairmanship over slavery comments; says House Speaker ‘sacrificed’ him to please black legislators

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:25 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - State Rep. Raymond Garofalo, R-Chalmette, was stripped of his chairmanship of the House Education Committee over comments he made about slavery. But Garofalo accuses House Speaker Clay Schexnayder of sacrificing him to appease the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.

“From my perspective, the Speaker should have backed me up right away on this issue. He knows I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Garofalo.

Garofalo issued a press release with the headline: Republican Speaker Chooses Black Democrats Over Fellow Republican Chairman.

Later in an interview with FOX 8, he did not back down.

“And he made it very clear that he would not be able to move that legislation which is a strong part of his package this year if I was still in the chair because the Black Caucus would not vote for his bills, so you can interpret that any way you want to. I interpret that as me being sacrificed to the Black Caucus,” Garofalo stated.

The legislation to which he referred is tax reform proposals.

Mike Sherman is FOX 8′s political analyst.

“Over the past few weeks the Legislative Black Caucus, the governor, Democrats have chastised Rep. Garofalo. Today the Republican leadership followed suit, stripping him of his committee chair, so today this is an intra-party Republican battle playing out in the final moments of this drama,” said Sherman.

It was a recent public exchange between Garofalo and Rep. Stephanie Hilferty over Garofalo’s bill to prohibit the teaching of divisive concepts also known as critical race theory that sparked controversy and calls by the Black Caucus and others to have him removed as committee chairman.

Garofalo said during a hearing on his bill, “If you’re teaching, if you’re having a discussion on whatever the case may be on slavery, then you can talk about everything dealing with slavery, the good, the bad, the ugly.”

Hilferty replied, “There’s no good to slavery, though.”

Garofalo then said, “Well, then whatever the case may be. You’re right, you’re right. I didn’t mean to imply that and I don’t believe that and I know that, that’s the case.”

Rep. Ted James, Chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus reacted to Garofalo losing his chairmanship.

“He’s probably never had to check his privilege and at this point, his privilege has been checked so he wants to point the finger at the black members of the legislature. I’ll take that, I’ll take that on, but the problem is Ray has not shown respect to the Speaker, even before the bill the Speaker and other folks asked him not to bring it,” James said.

Sherman commented on the headline on Garofalo’s press release.

“When you’re charged with racially polarizing, insensitive comments it’s probably best not to use racially polarizing, insensitive titles in your press release. I think this is going to further escalate the divide,” said Sherman.

James was asked if the Black Caucus cut a deal with Schexnayder to have Garofalo removed as Education Committee chairman.

“The Black Caucus has made no deal with the Speaker. I gave the Speaker a letter three weeks ago and in multiple conversations, we’ve reiterated that members of the committee don’t feel comfortable with him serving,” said James “We’re in the same position that we were this time yesterday. We have not been promised anything.”

Also, he said the caucus routinely uses the power of its votes to improve tax measures.

“You know, all these conversations about tax reform, the Black Caucus and the Democratic Caucus, we’ve always held up votes on major tax bills until we got something for working people, that is documented. This is the only time when we can flex our muscle is when there are 70 vote bills, and we intend to do so,” said James.

Garofalo insists that Schexnayder told him he supports his legislation.

“When people, when teachers and other people that are adults in our school system are telling young black children that they’re oppressed by the white man and they’re telling young white children that they should feel guilty for something that somebody that they’re not even related to did 150 years ago, to me that’s totally setting them up for failure,” said Garofalo.

FOX 8 reached out to Schexnayder for comment, but his office said he was on the House floor as the legislative session was underway.

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