Rep. Welker cites his 'poor judgment' in forwarding essay
By Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News
March 10, 2006
A Loveland lawmaker has been blasted by his colleagues for e-mailing an essay written by someone else that accused "welfare-pampered blacks" of waiting for the government to save them from Hurricane Katrina.
Rep. Jim Welker, a Republican, said Thursday morning that he forwarded the article because of its message about society victimizing people by making them dependent on government programs.
He said he didn't agree with everything in the essay.
One passage says, "President Bush is not to blame for the rampant immorality of blacks."
House lawmakers - black and white, Republican and Democrat - expressed outrage that Welker would forward such an essay.
Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, who worked with Katrina evacuees when they came to Colorado, said she was "appalled and sickened."
"These (were) poor people. Many of them were senior citizens and had no way to escape the hurricane," said Stafford, who is white.
Rep. Terrence Carroll, D-Denver, called it "one one of the most irresponsible e-mails someone in this chamber has sent out."
"It shows (Welker's) complete and utter disregard, at worst, and the misunderstanding, at best, of the lives of people of color," said Carroll, who is black.
After the uproar, Welker issued the following statement late in the afternoon:
"Forwarding this e-mail, particularly without comment, showed poor judgment on my part. I found the opinions expressed by this individual, especially if taken literally, to be offensive and inappropriate. I should not have assumed that this would be clear when received by others."
He earlier said he should have put a disclaimer on the e-mail, and will do so in future e-mails of other writers' material.
Welker said he forwarded the e-mail over the weekend on his own computer.
But Democratic lawmakers have asked the legislature's technical staff to determine why copies of the e-mails forwarded to them by people who were upset with the content bear a time stamp of Monday afternoon, when Welker was in a committee hearing with his laptop computer.
Welker, who is white, said he wasn't implying anything about blacks by forwarding the essay.
"Some of my best friends are of different skin color, like Ed Jones," said Welker, referring to Sen. Jones, a Colorado Springs Republican who is black.
Jones said that he and Welker are friends, but not best friends.
Jones said it was wrong for the author to accuse New Orleans blacks of being immoral, but he agreed with Peterson that there is a problem in New Orleans with generational welfare.
Essay author Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, who is black, is praised on one Web site for taking on the NAACP, a "tool of the largely 'elite, socialist' Democratic Party."
Carroll said Peterson has "made his whole career shilling for the hard right."
Welker last year took heat from his own caucus for saying he feared that if gays were allowed to marry, then people might eventually marry their animals. Republicans said they were embarrassed by his comments.
On blacks, Katrina
Excerpts from an essay by the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson posted Sept. 21, 2005, on WorldNetDaily.com:
"Say a hurricane is about to destroy the city you live in. What would you do?
If you're black . . . you'll probably wait for the government to save you."
"When 75 percent of New Orleans residents had left the city, it was primarily immoral, welfare-pampered blacks that stayed behind and waited for the government to bail them out."
"About five years ago, in a debate before the National Association of Black Journalists, I stated that if whites were to just leave the United States and let blacks run the country, they would turn America into a ghetto within 10 years. (But) I gave blacks too much credit. It took a mere three days for blacks to turn the Superdome and the convention center into ghettos, rampant with theft, rape and murder."
"Had New Orleans' black community taken action, most would have been out of harm's way. But most were too lazy, immoral and trifling to do anything productive for themselves."
"Blacks are obligated to help themselves and not depend on the government to care for them. We are all obligated to tell them so."
The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is a conservative black evangelical minister from Los Angeles and host of a nationally syndicated radio show.