Politics & Government

Kansas lawmaker posts Facebook meme denigrating Mexicans, Obama

A Kansas lawmaker posted an image to his Facebook page Tuesday using Mexican stereotypes and mocking the president.

Rep. John Bradford, R-Lansing, shared a meme on his Facebook page depicting a mustachioed man in a sombrero and a deformed image of President Obama. The image is accompanied with this message: “MEXICAN WORDS OF THE DAY: PIZZA CHIP & BELIEVING.”

“THIS PIZZA CHIP WILL BELIEVING THE WHITE HOUSE SOON,” the message says in reference to Obama, mocking a stereotypical Mexican accent.

Bradford did not answer phone calls Thursday morning. The image was apparently removed shortly after efforts to contact the lawmaker were made. The Eagle took a screenshot of Bradford’s page before the image was deleted.

Bradford issued an apology Thursday afternoon through the House Speaker's office. “I did not create the image, but I did share it, which was in bad taste," Bradford said in a statement. "I regret that decision.”

Bradford’s page also includes posts that compare efforts to enact gun control in the United States to Adolf Hitler and one that states “SORRY, BUT I DON’T LISTEN TO ANTI-GUN LECTURES FROM PEOPLE WHO THINK IT’S OK TO KILL A BABY.”

The “MEXICAN WORDS” image was widely circulated through Kansas political circles and inspired criticism from Latino leaders.

“Rep. Bradford’s posting represents an unacceptable level of ignorance, which sadly fuels hateful conduct and disrespect for the Hispanic community and the President of the United States,” said Pedro Irigonegaray, a prominent Kansas attorney who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba.

“What worries me is the fact that we have a representative in the Kansas Legislature who is willing to treat human beings that he perceives as different with such disregard,” Irigonegaray said. “And if he’s willing to do it to the Hispanic community, who’s next?”

Irigonegaray served as attorney for Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City, last year when Republican lawmakers tried to censure her for calling supporters of a bill that would end in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants at Kansas universities racists. Irigonegaray noted that Bradford was one of the lawmakers to sign the petition to censure Winn.

“I am particularly offended by his hypocrisy in leading the charge against Rep. Winn as he did last year when in fact he is the one who should be relieved of his public servant duties,” he said.

One of Bradford's Latino colleagues, Rep. John Alcala, a Topeka Democrat, called the meme "rude, racist and disrespectful."

"And the Republicans wonder why they can't attract more of the Latino vote. Well, here's a pretty good example," Alcala said.

Other Democratic lawmakers also criticized Bradford for the post.

“This tasteless Facebook post not only proves that Rep. Winn was correct about institutional racism in the Kansas Legislature, it also proves that Rep. Bradford is a racist himself,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, in a statement.

Hensley called for Bradford to be investigated under the same rule that enabled an investigation of Winn last year.

Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, had to apologize in 2011 after joking at a committee hearing that a proposal to shoot feral hogs from helicopters could also serve as a solution to illegal immigration.

Peck’s comments at the time received widespread condemnation from national Latino groups.

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3