Alabama lawmaker apologizes for racial 'aborigine' comment
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.
"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.
-- 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