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Posted: 6:33 PM- It's a good thing Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, isn't running for president of the United States. He had a macaca moment on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.
"This baby is black It's a dark ugly thing," Buttars remarked during vigorous debate about SB48, legislation aimed at equalizing school capital outlay funding when school districts split.
Buttars' blunder outlasted debate on the bill. After senators returned from a 10-minute break, Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, said there had been a breach of decorum and gave Buttars the floor.
"I made a comment that a lot of people could take racist. I didn't mean it that way," Buttars said. "I apologize to anyone who took offense. I got my mouth ahead of my brain." Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said he took the issue to Valentine after hearing Buttars' comments. "I felt like it needed to be addressed promptly," Romero said, adding that he appreciated Buttars's apology.
During the Senate's break, there was off-the-floor discussion about censuring Buttars, Romero said. But Valentine intervened.
Beyond the all-white Senate, some in the African-American community found the remarks shocking.
"I am appalled that he would utter such words in the capacity as senator and representing the people of Utah," said Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake branch of the NAACP. "I applaud Sen. Valentine for intervening to make note how other people will perceive such words and to ask Sen. Buttars for an apology." email@example.com" Target="_BLANK">firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com" Target="_BLANK">firstname.lastname@example.org