A state House member has been stripped of his committee assignment after making comments regarding the bipartisan campaign to replace the statue of Confederate leader Alexander Hamilton Stephens in the U.S. Capitol with one of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
Speaker David Ralston told FOX 5 that he removed Representative Tommy Benton from his position as Chairman of the House Retirement Committee. The removal comes after comments Benton made in an interview on WJJC Radio about Lewis.
Representative Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson).
From Benton’s interview on WJJC 1270 AM in Commerce:
Benton: “I notice that there’s a movement to replace Alexander Stephens’ statue in Washington D.C. with that of John Lewis. I would suggest that before they do something like that, that they take a pilgrimage down to Crawfordville and visit the Alexander Stephens museum, and read all the stuff that he did do.
“Now, the other person they’re talking about replacing his statue with -- I have never read of a significant piece of legislation That was passed with his name on it.”
Host: “Who is that?”
Benton: “John Lewis. His only claim to fame was that he got conked on the head at the [Edmund] Pettus bridge. And he has milked that for 50 years -- or he milked it for 50 years.”
In a statement to FOX 5, Speaker Ralston said he found Benton's comments "offensive and disgusting."
"These comments do not reflect the values or the views of the House Majority Caucus. I can neither condone nor ignore such hurtful remarks," the statement reads. "Congressman John Lewis spent a lifetime of public service advancing equality for all. He stood with Dr. King to fight for civil rights during dangerous times for which he paid a brutal price.”