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Alabama lawmaker apologizes for racial 'aborigine' comment

September 27, 2011 |  1:30 pm

Scott Beason
An Alabama state senator who was caught on tape referring to black people as "aborigines" will retain his leadership position in the Statehouse after a "spirited" meeting with his fellow Republicans, the Birmingham News reported. On Tuesday, he apologized for the remark.

Scott Beason, a GOP senator from the north Birmingham suburb of Gardendale -- and one of the authors of the state's strict anti-illegal-immigration law -- is chairman of the state Senate's powerful Rules Committee.

This summer, he was a witness for the prosecution in a high-profile criminal trial targeting alleged influence-peddling in the gambling industry.

In that case, Beason wore a wire on behalf of the FBI, and it was revealed in court that he was recorded making racially insensitive comments.

At one point, according to the Associated Press, a transcript of the recordings found Beason and two other Republicans joking about the customers at a casino in Greene County, which is 81.5% black.

"That's y'all's Indians," former Rep. Benjamin Lewis said.

"They're aborigines, but they're not Indians," replied Beason.

Last week, at a Senate Republican caucus meeting, Beason was "conciliatory" and, according to the Birmingham paper, was allowed to keep the chairmanship.

At a news conference Tuesday, Beason said he was "very sorry" for the comment.

"As I have stated before, I do not know where that word came from or why it popped in my head that day. Nevertheless, the comments were careless and unnecessary," he said, according to a report by the News' Sherrel Stewart.

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-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta

Photo: State Sen. Scott Beason, one of the authors of Alabama's new immigration law, speaks to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Birmingham, following a hearing in August over efforts to block the law. Credit: Associated Press

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