NV lawmaker offers explanation over slavery remarks
Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Minden, speaks during Assembly floor debate on background checks on gun sales during the final day of the 77th Legislative session at the Legislative Building in Carson City, NV, on June 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
CARSON CITY, NV (FOX5/AP) -
A Nevada assemblyman called his remarks about voting for slavery an "over the top" example of something he absolutely does not agree with.
In the video on YouTube from an August meeting, freshman Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler of Minden says he'd have to hold his nose and vote for slavery if that's what his constituents wanted.
On Monday, Wheeler caught flack over the statement.
Contacted by phone, Wheeler says he was trying to make a point that he's elected to represent his district. He says he wasn't condoning slavery and that his words were being taken out of context.
In expanding on his explanation, Wheeler posted on his website, "I stated the truth that I believe, which is that in a Representative Republic I'm hired by the people to represent their views. I used an over the top example of something that I absolutely do not agree with, and even mentioned that to get me to vote for such a thing, my constituents would literally have to hold a gun to my head."
Wheeler also said he couldn't represent his constituency if it "wanted to do something as outlandish as bring back an abhorrent system."
But his remarks touched off a whirlwind of condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval says Wheeler's comments are "deeply offensive," and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller says they were "insensitive and wrong."
At the end of his posted explanation, Wheeler offered an apology to those who were offended by his remarks.
"I intended the statement as an extreme example of something unacceptable, and hope that's how it's taken," Wheeler said.
Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.