Burt Minor, a Republican candidate for the Illinois House, says he has been "greatly misrepresented" in a meeting with an attorney general candidate where he asked if she was "a lesbo" and repeatedly used the n-word. And despite calls to remove himself from the race, Minor has refused to do so.
Minor met last fall with Erika Harold, a Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general, and asked, "Are you a lesbo?" Harold told Minor the question was offensive. He then repeatedly used a racial slur in front of Harold and her assistant.
Peter Breen, the House Republican floor leader, sent a letter to fellow Republicans and said that Minor confirmed the conversation took place. According to Breen, Minor went so far as to blame the situation on Harold:
"He explained this away by claiming that Ms. Harold 'wanted him to ask the question' about her sexual orientation and claiming that Ms. Harold asked him to say the full n-word. Suffice it to say, this is not how the other participants to the meeting heard or understood the statements, nor how they reported those statements to others both immediately after the meeting occurred and consistently in the months since."
In a statement of his own Minor said he was "unaware" that he "might have made Erika uncomfortable." He repeatedly called the incident a "misunderstanding" and said, "I wish those who rushed to judgment would have gotten all the facts first."
But according to Harold, it was not a misunderstanding. It was offensive and, unfortunately, part of a pattern.
"I think that when you are a Black woman running for office, you do face comments that are objectionable and it's very important that we change that within our culture," she told The Grio. "I never spoke with the governor, but I did speak with a few people within the party and understood there were people who were telling him that he should not be a candidate for this office."
Harold is an accomplished woman. She was crowned Miss America in 2003 and used her winnings to fund her tuition for Harvard Law School. According to her website, in 2015 the Illinois Supreme Court appointed her to serve on its Committee on Equality. She is also a commissioner on the court's Commission on Professionalism, as well as a member of the national board of directors of Prison Fellowship, where she serves as a proponent for criminal justice reform. Her name appeared on the 2017 Emerging Lawyers list.
The Chicago Tribune endorsed Harold, praising her for her "drive, approachability and eloquence."
Despite her achievements, Harold has been no stranger to attacks. In 2013 while Harold was running for Illinois' 13th Congressional District a GOP chairman called her a "street walker" and "love child" for the Democratic Party.
Jim Allen, who stepped down as chairman after the comments went public, wrote in an email to Republican News Watch.
"Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires," he wrote, adding, "Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS."
Breen sent a letter to fellow Republicans whose names have been linked to Minor, requesting them to withdraw any endorsements for Minor "because he is not fit to serve as a Republican nominee for the General Assembly."
In response to Minor's statement Breen released one of his own, calling out Minor not only for his comments about Harold but for being a liar:
"Burt Minor should take ownership of his outrageous and offensive statements, apologize for making them, and return to private life away from any public involvement with the Republican Party.
"Burt Minor lied in his fundraising solicitations by claiming the endorsements of numerous elected officials who had never given him permission to use their name, including falsely claiming an endorsement from our Republican Leader Jim Durkin. His accusations today are more lies."
Both Breen and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner have called on Minor to exit the race. But he has made no indication that he will.