A Georgia state lawmaker who opposed a statue of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and wants to restore street names to the era before King was assassinated has been named chair of a state House committee just days ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
GA House Speaker
David Ralston on Friday named GOP Rep. Tommy Benton to chair
the House Retirement Committee, which oversees teachers’ retirement funds
in the state, among other things, The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Less than two years
was stripped of the chairmanship of the House Human Relations and Aging
Committee after he circulated among lawmakers an article disputing that slavery
was the main cause of the Civil War. That article was titled “The Absurdity of
Slavery as the Cause of the War Between the States.”
Benton also is a fan
of the Ku Klux Klan, stating in 2016 that the KKK “made a lot of people straighten
up.” He said the KKK “was not so much a racist thing, but a vigilante
thing to keep law and order,” The Atlanta
philosophy is that people deserve a second chance and that’s what he has given
Chairman Benton,” House spokesman Kaleb McMichen told the newspaper.
Per the report:
Ralston has never publicly criticized Benton by name, and apart from the temporary demotion from House leadership, the controversies have had little impact on the seven-term legislator from Jackson County. Benton handily defeated his opponent in the Republican primary last year and was unopposed in the general election.
Benton, a retired
teacher, also has worked to protect Confederate monuments, including calling for
a constitutional amendment to protect Stone Mountain, a memorial often
described as the “Mt. Rushmore of the Confederacy,” as Splinter reported in
2016. In 2017, Benton wanted lawmakers to adopt Confederate Memorial Day as an
official holiday. He also wanted them to officially recognize Gen. Robert E.
Lee’s birthday, and declare April “Confederate History Month.”
McMichen said the
timing of the announcement of Benton’s new chairmanship, ahead of MLK Day on
Monday, was purely coincidental.
constitution dictates when we have to come into session…That’s where we are,” McMichen
said, according to The Atlanta
Yeah, we know where you are. Or rather, who you are.