Archive for Monday, February 14, 2011

Statehouse Live: Democrats criticize Republican legislator over ‘complexion’ remark

February 14, 2011, 1:54 p.m. Updated February 14, 2011, 6:15 p.m.


State Rep. Connie O'Brien testifies in support of a bill to repeal in-state tuition

State Rep. Connie O'Brien, R-Tonganoxie, testifying last week to a legislative committee in support of a bill to repeal in-state tuition for certain undocumented students.

— The Kansas Democratic Party on Monday demanded a Republican legislator apologize for saying she could tell a woman wasn’t from the United States because of her “olive complexion.”

“This kind of blatant racism is unacceptable,” said Kenny Johnston, executive director of the state Democratic Party.

Rep. Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie, said the Democrats had mischaracterized what she had said. She said she would have a statement about the issue in the next day or so.

The dispute was over testimony O’Brien gave last week to a House committee in support of a bill that would repeal in-state tuition for certain undocumented students.

O’Brien told the House Federal and State Affairs Committee about a time last year when she accompanied her son to enroll at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

A woman near them in line was requesting her scholarship money, but when the clerk asked for her photo identification, the woman said she had none, O’Brien said.

The woman then asked for someone else to help her, O’Brien said. O’Brien told the committee that the woman was going to get financial assistance, and her son, who was born and raised in Kansas, wasn’t.

“We didn’t ask the girl what nationality she was. We didn’t think that was proper but we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country,” O’Brien said.

Rep. Sean Gatewood, D-Topeka, asked O’Brien how she could tell, and O’Brien replied, “She wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion.” O’Brien said she had a son-in-law from Afghanistan, who had olive complexion, so the woman could have been from Afghanistan.

Another committee member, Rep. Mario Goico, R-Wichita, told O’Brien during the committee hearing that the woman O’Brien had been speaking about, if she was an undocumented student, could not have received any federal or state scholarship funds.

Johnston, with the Kansas Democratic Party, said O’Brien should apologize to the state’s minority student population for her “extremely inappropriate comments.” He added, “Apparently in Rep. O’Brien’s world, all students with ‘olive complexion’ should be banned from receiving financial aid.”

O’Brien said the Democrats were making a big deal out of nothing “like they did with Bill Otto.” Otto, a Republican state legislator from LeRoy, was criticized for making a video in 2009 in which he criticized President Obama in a “RedNeck Rap,” while wearing a hat that said “OPOSSUM the other Dark Meat.” Otto said he didn’t mean for his video to have any racial overtones.

The proposal to repeal the 2004 law that allows in-state tuition for undocumented students was approved by the committee and will be debated by the full House this week.


Steve Bunch 6 years ago

If you've been away for a while, welcome back to the moronocracy.

jafs 6 years ago

A few possibilities for "olive colored" skin for Americans:

Italian Americans Hispanic Americans Greek Americans

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Greek Americans"

Would that include sorority girls fresh from the tanning salon?

Keith 6 years ago

No, those are known as Boehner-Americans.

anen87 6 years ago

Victoria Beckham (english), David Gandy (english), Irina Shayk (Rusian) and MANYmore european non-mediterrenians all have Olive skin too and miss Connie O’Brien (irish) I would also describe her complexion as Olive Skin. If your skin complexion is pink or it does not turn red in the sun YOU ARE OLIVE SKIN!

PalinPalms 6 years ago

I don't really think you can blame O'Brien... I mean she was probably just drunk

kansanjayhawk 6 years ago

I know Connie O'brien personally and I know there is not a racist bone in her body. She works tirelessly to help those of all nationalities and especially in protecting us against the encroachment of our government upon our liberties. Notice that the article did not interview O'brien or ask her to clarify the record? This is just another liberal media hit piece trying to give the perception of something that is not true, it is really sad, where is journalism why don't you visit with Connie before you print these accusations? Seems like the media never wants to be fair to a conservative...

jafs 6 years ago

If the information is incorrect, then ask the paper to retract the story.

However, the information comes from her own testimony before the House Federal and State Affairs committee.

And, newspapers are not under the obligation to ask everybody they write a story about for an interview.

Danielle Brunin 6 years ago

There may not be a racist bone in her body, but apparently she doesn't have a smart bone in her body either.

BallHawk 6 years ago

Not a racist bone in her body? It doesn't seem that is so. If she is not racist then why speak of this woman's color at all? Was it pertinent to getting her point across? Could the woman not produce a government ID at the time or did she not even have one at all? Perhaps she was documented and was in need of direction to procure an ID...did the representative step in to try to assist this woman? She is a representatvie of our state; I certainly hope she was willing to be helpful. Sadly, it appears your friend was only willing to pass judgment based on very little information she overheard. Sorry but whether she wants to be known as racist or not it appears she used it as a means to make a point when something was not in her favor...racist.

Bananajoe 6 years ago

Not a racist bone in her body....probably Lacks of common sense..........Absolutely!!!

Majestic42 6 years ago

Whereas you "lacks of" spelling ability. Bazinga.

Brock Masters 6 years ago

I just call it like I see it and I see that she may not be racist, but if the story is factual she is very ignorant.

Just because you are American doesn't mean that your genetic makeup changes. She is smart enough to figure out that if they have black skin they may still be Americans, but only non-Americans have olive skin? How dumb is that?

llama726 6 years ago

Please, please, please stop repeating this "liberal media" line. The LJ World is notoriously conservative. Look at their regular syndicated columnists and the paper's publisher.

overthemoon 6 years ago

Right. The 'liberal media' is another trash can construct in the Rovian vein that provides a nifty way of discrediting anything resembling reality.

sciencegeek 6 years ago

Why is it that any time a conservative does or says something stupid, the only reason it would be reported is because of the "liberal media"? Why is it that it "never wants to be fair to a conservative" when it reports a direct quote? And "where is journalism" when a national network still questions that a black man born in Hawaii isn't an American citizen?

The hypocrisy of the right is utterly incredible.

deec 6 years ago

Financial aid is based on income, so if the parents make too much money, the kid doesn't qualify for financial aid. Things like academic or athletic excellence qualify kids for scholarships.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years ago

You know, I can tell by looking at Connie O'Brien that she is not originally from this country either.

It is her pale white skin that gives her away.

anen87 6 years ago


Majestic42 6 years ago

Inappropriate comment, inappropriate lack of comment from O'Brien.

sr80 6 years ago

i am a white american male.i wonder if i got a tan and grew my beard out if i could go to yemen,change my place of birth like al-awlaki "the american terrorist" and come back to the US for a free education, courtesy of the american taxpayer???

sr80 6 years ago

since that was such a profound statement i guess it should be posted twice.

sr80 6 years ago

i am a white american male.i wonder if i got a tan and grew my beard out if i could go to yemen,change my place of birth like al-awlaki "the american terrorist" and come back to the US for a free education, courtesy of the american taxpayer???

Gary Denning 6 years ago

Olive skin? Will we never get our borders closed to the Italians and Greeks?

anen87 6 years ago

what about the Olive Skin Victoria Beckham, and David Gandy.....

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

Hmmmmmmmmmm...........perhaps, the Representative has been reading Cal Thomas' columns?

ivalueamerica 6 years ago

Really? I have not forgotten your statement about the ethics and work quality you offered about people who are Black vs. people who are Hispanic.

Majestic42 6 years ago

Grudge-holding=the mark of true maturity. TL;DR version: U MAD?

Gregory Newman 6 years ago

quit lying the Repugs can't handle the fact that they have to accept that their Boss is Black. That's a generation curse of Whites. The ones that break from the curse realize that their heart is better than that. Something you don't have the ability to do because there is a bad connection between the brain and the heart

Jimo 6 years ago

No, Dems just accept that racists such as yourself sort and segregate by skin color - regardless of how 'color blind' you claim to be.

May God - with the swarthy, olive skinned son -- bless.

Matt Needham 6 years ago

What ethnic background gives an orange complexion? None among human beings. Obviously some of our leaders are carrot based infiltrators!

sr80 6 years ago

its not ethnic background but i have seen babs the sweet little sorority girl come out of the tanning salon in a fine shade of orange,almost the color of orange sherbert!!!!! yum! yum!! yummm!!!

jhawkinsf 6 years ago

Was the comment specific to which color olive? Green or Black. Pitted? Pimento added? I need more info. Never Mind.

situveux1 6 years ago

I'm so sick of this kind of "gotcha" politics.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

What she said was part of recorded testimony. What kind of comment was that? She knew nothing of the details about this situation, yet she assumed that the woman was not a US citizen, because of the color of her skin. If the woman had been white would she have thought the same? There are plenty of US citizens who have olive colored skin. What a weird thing to assume. She's just pissed, because a woman of color earned a scholarship, and her son was too stupid to get a scholarship.

beatrice 6 years ago

I don't see this as "gotcha" politics, because O'Brien wasn't set up. She just said something of her own free will that appears highly questionable. How can anyone make a claim that someone doesn't appear American based on the olive color of their skin?

tomatogrower 6 years ago

Is this the same Rep. who told her constituents that the legislature raised the per student aid to schools last year? Dumb or racist? It's hard to tell. This is why laws like Arizona's worry me. I have dark skin and have been mistaken as Mexican. If I was ever forced to carry around my birth certificate, I wouldn't stick that certificate in the first person's face who demanded me to show it. Need I say where I would stick it?

thatonedude 6 years ago

I knew he was going to be able to get a little edgier once he moved to TBS, but thi-

Huh? Wh... Wait, what?

OHHHHHH. Connie O'Brien. CONNIE. Got it.

sciencegeek 6 years ago

Most people with such a distorted view of reality can get medical and psychological help. You should try it; your level of paranoia and irrationality is dangerous. Then again, with all the budget cuts to the disadvantaged, there may not be any place left for those of you with mental illness to be treated.

Alyosha 6 years ago

Your post, FYI, communicates absolutely nothing to those who don't already share your limited fantasy world.

Just saying.

All reasonable people receive from your ocomment is "blah blah far-left blah blah unhinged blah blah Obama blah blah far-left."

In other words, hardly a respectable civic argument.

Carry on.

Mike Ford 6 years ago

I am European and American Indian. In the South, my complexion would be known as dusky. These poor rural hand shaking patriotic types aren't used to having to watch what they say because no one in their small towns watch what they say. They're amongst narrow minded like minded people. Tom lives in the Bonner Springs Linwood area...since the Delawares were removed and towns like Journeycake became Linwood...they can get away with crazy sounding talk amongst themselves because they live in a fishbowl. FOX Network reinforces their fishbowl mentality....welcome to the real world narrowminds...

tomatogrower 6 years ago

Scholarships are not handouts. They are earned. Apparently this O'Brien woman wanted some handouts for her son, since he didn't get any scholarships. She doesn't even know the difference between financial aid from the government and scholarships. Maybe she should try going to college, except she might be subjected to having to sit next to olive skinned people. Horrors.

tomatogrower 6 years ago

Scholarships are not handouts. They are earned. Apparently this O'Brien woman wanted some handouts for her son, since he didn't get any scholarships. She doesn't even know the difference between financial aid from the government and scholarships. Maybe she should try going to college, except she might be subjected to having to sit next to olive skinned people. Horrors.

Mike Ford 6 years ago

I laugh when you leave yourself open to ridicule due to your lack of cultural history. Hawaii was stolen in an American overthrowing of the Hawaiian monarchy in the late 1890's US sugar barons, profiteers, pineapple companies, and the Morman Church came rushing in to destroy the indigenous Polynesian culture. Indigenous Polynesians were forced off lands, their sacred sites and cemeteries were desecrated, it sounds a lot like what the greedy people did here. I remember a Hawaiian player for the K-State Cotton Bowl team talking about how his people were put in projects out of the sight of superficial tourists like Tom Shewmon back in Hawaii. There was a Hawaiian Federal Recognition bill until the Dumblicans tabled it last year. You know if you all weren't such capitalistic land grabbers always in denial of your greedyness, you would have to face the history of theft you so embrace. I guess the bliss of ignorance serves one well. Aloha Haole.

Ralph Reed 6 years ago

@tuschkahouma. re your 2250 on 14 Feb. A couple of things. As I remember, the Methodist church, not the Mormon Church, sent missionaries to Hawaii. Those missionaries became the barons of which you speak (Dole is one). The Mormon church may be there now, but the Methodists did the initial and most devastating damage.

The Akaka Bill should have been tabled. If the intent was to create Federal Recognition as exists in the 48 + Alaska, then it doesn't. All it does is create a separate race-based governing authority. For the bill to pass, it should be rewritten to mirror the Federal Recognition in the rest of the US. I know people don't like wikipedia, but here's a good general article about the bill.

deec 6 years ago

Some of us do know,and are sorry. Now of course I may be attacked and accused of having "liberal white guilt." Well, yeah. Europe and America have commited atrocities all over the world for many centuries. Perhaps if we'd stop committing atrocities and meddling in the affairs of other countries, they would be less inclined to hate us.

Bob Forer 6 years ago

Isn't anyone troubled by a legislator giving sworn testimony to the legislature. Under the separation of powers doctrine, the legislature is supposed to make laws, not make up facts.

sr80 6 years ago

go read about the zulu nation with shaka if you want atrocities,the white man didn't appear for some time,so you can't blame them!! isn't that too bad white man can't be scapegoat???

deec 6 years ago

"He did it, too "is not a valid defense.

sr80 6 years ago

i am just saying the white man isn't / wasn't the only bad people in history.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years ago

That was in 2001 in an interview on Fox News, and Byrd was immediately criticized from the left. He soon thereafter issued an apology.

You shouldn't cite things when you don't know the facts.

DWilly 6 years ago

Why is it taking a more than a day to come up with a statement? It's not that hard to say, "I'm a little prejudice. Obviously being non-white, non-black, non-asian and forgetting your wallet does not make you an illegal resident. I need to change how I think about people who do not look like me."

I came up with that in less than five minutes while watching Sportscenter.

anen87 6 years ago

She meant to say Brown Skin, the term "Brown skin" is associated to non-european people. "Olive Skin" is associated with Europeans with darker complexion like for example Victoria Beckham (english) and Irina Shayk (russian) have Olive skin. And looking at Connie O’Brien (irish) I would definitely describe her skin tone as Olive skin.

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