Topeka Democratic legislative leaders on Friday called for the resignation of Rep. Virgil Peck, R-Tyro, for his distasteful comments about immigrants.
“He has betrayed the trust of his constituency and those he serves with,” said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence.
On Monday, Peck said perhaps the state should use gunmen in helicopters to control illegal immigration, as it does for feral swine. He later said he was joking.
He initially declined to apologize, but, under pressure from Republican leaders, Peck issued a two-sentence apology on Tuesday, saying his statements were “regrettable.”
Davis said the apology was insincere.
Rep. Louis Ruiz, D-Kansas City, Kan., said Peck’s remarks “cut like a dagger” to himself, his family and the Latino community.
Ruiz said Peck should at least be censured by the House because Ruiz said he didn’t believe Peck would resign.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, should ask for Peck’s resignation. Hensley said that in his 35 years in the Legislature, Peck’s comment was “the most disrespectful display I’ve ever seen.”
Earlier this week, O’Neal and other House Republican leaders issued a statement saying Peck has expressed sorrow and promised to more respectful in his discourse. “Representative Peck is a valuable member of this body and both understands and accepts his responsibilities,” the statement said.
On Friday, O’Neal declined to comment further on the Peck issue, saying it was a “personnel matter.”
Peck’s controversial comment came up during a discussion in the House Appropriations Committee about state spending for controlling feral swine.
Peck said the state might consider controlling illegal immigration the same way it uses helicopters and gunmen to shoot and kill wild pigs.
“It looks like to me that if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem,” he said.
Asked about his comment on Monday, Peck was unapologetic. “I was just speaking like a southeast Kansas person,” he said.
Several national civil rights groups have called for Peck’s resignation. Peck has said he won’t resign.
On Thursday, Peck made a brief on-camera apology for CNN. Three Republican Hispanic representatives stood by his side during his statement.
Rep. Mario Goico, R-Wichita, was one of those. Goico told the Lawrence Journal-World, “Any time that you compare a human being to an animal or you talk about killing somebody, it’s outrageous. I think Representative Peck made a mistake. He apologized to me.”
The Kansas Hispanic and Latino American Affairs Commission, which is under the governor’s office, denounced Peck’s remarks and asked Peck to “make a concerted effort to connect with the Hispanic community in Kansas.”