Comments in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that appeared to show Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) supportive of the Ku Klux Klan created a firestorm of media attention last week.
Late Monday, Benton withdrew three bills that had made him the center of controversy.
“It was not my intention to create a situation whereby my comments would create a negative perception,” Benton said in a brief statement issued Monday afternoon. “Therefore, today I am withdrawing my sponsorship of HB 854, HB 855 and HR 1179 to allow the business of the House to move forward in an orderly manner.
House Speaker David Ralston at the same time issued a statement rebuking Benton for his comments, but he did not strip Benton of his committee chairmanship as some critics had demanded.
“I condemn commentary that would seek to reverse the progress that we have made in the last century and a half,” Ralston, (R-Blue Ridge) said. “While we are mindful of our history, the business of the General Assembly isn’t in rewriting or reinterpreting the past, but rather to focus on improving Georgia’s future.”
The AJC interviewed Benton in regard to three bills he dropped. House Resolution 1179 would protect Stone Mountain Park as “an appropriate and suitable memorial for the Confederacy.” House Bill 854 would require that state streets, bridges or overpasses once named for Confederate heroes but whose names were changed since 1968 to revert on Jan. 1, 2017, back to their original names.
For the full story, see the Feb. 3 edition of The Jackson Herald.
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