Republican Nevada state assemblyman Jim Wheeler has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans for stating that if his constituents asked him to support legislation to bring back slavery he would do it.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, Wheeler was having a discussion with a crowd of Republicans in August when he made the declaration that many have denounced as offensive and incendiary.
"If that's what they wanted, I'd have to hold my nose, I'd have to bite my tongue and they'd probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah, if that's what the citizens of the, if that's what the constituency wants that elected me, that's what they elected me for," he said. "That's what a republic is about. You elected a person for your district to do your wants and wishes, not the wants and wishes of a special interest, not his own wants and wishes, yours."
The report noted that Wheeler's comment came in response to a question regarding a bill that came before the Nevada legislature earlier this year that allows the DNA testing of people arrested for felonies.
The assemblyman said that although he was philosophically opposed to it, he voted for it anyway because that's what his constituents wanted.
"I was hired to do a job, what the people wanted me to do, so if it is clear to me, even if it's against my own wishes, what my constituents want, that's the way I am going to vote," he noted in the August meeting.
Wheeler's remarks referenced a blog post by a conservative commentator Chuck Muth, who had asked during Wheeler's candidacy, "[W]hat if those citizens decided they want to, say, bring back slavery? Hey, if that's what the citizens want, right Jim?"
The assembly man told his audience, "yeah I would."
His logic, however, has received bipartisan scorn.
"I don't care what point he was trying to make," Jodi Stephens, the director of the state Senate Republican caucus tweeted according to the Sun. "Jim Wheeler's comments about slavery are disgusting and unacceptable."
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval also dismissed Wheeler's statement as offensive. "Assemblyman Wheeler's comments are deeply offensive, and have no place in our society," said Sandoval. "He should retract his remarks and apologize.
In an RGJ.com report on Tuesday, Wheeler noted that his comments were taken out of context.
"The media is having a good time with a clearly facetious statement I made in a town hall meeting earlier this year," said Wheeler in his statement addressing the issue. "They're attempting to spin an extreme example I used about supporting my constituents to accuse me of being racist."
"If my comments were taken with offense by anyone, I sincerely apologize," he added.