RALEIGH — Black lawmakers in the N.C. General Assembly say the Republican leadership is showing a lack of respect for African-Americans.
"Since taking control of the General Assembly last November, Republicans have shown little compassion on issues relating to African Americans in North Carolina," Democratic state Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. said in a statement released late last week.
The carefully worded - but nonetheless blunt - remarks from the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus came Thursday, hours after the state Senate overrode the governor's veto of the Racial Justice Act and rumors swirled about a Republican effort to push through a law requiring voters to show ID at the polls.
The statement also mentioned education budget cuts.
The legislation is just the start, argued McKissick, who said Republicans are disempowering black leaders in state agencies and called the treatment of African-American leaders "alarming."
He highlighted the forced resignation of Marilyn Chism, the head of the General Assembly's Fiscal Research Division "for no other reason than to flex their political muscle."
McKissick also mentioned the treatment of Lynn Holmes, an assistant commerce secretary, whom state Sen. Bob Rucho referred to as "embarrassing" and "incompetent." Holmes was subpoenaed by the legislature and asked to testify under oath at a committee meeting last week.
"The Republicans' treatment of these employees and their legislation show an overall disinterest and lack of respect for black people in North Carolina," McKissick said in the statement. "The question is, when are they going to stop attacking black North Carolinians and focus on job creation and getting this economy moving?"
The office of House Speaker Thom Tillis didn't respond to requests for comment. Senate GOP leader Phil Berger's spokesman said the claims didn't dignify a response.
Rucho, a Charlotte-area Republican, defended his questioning of Holmes as the state tries to pay down a federal debt for unemployment benefits.
As for the broad accusations, Rucho said "that accusation doesn't even deserve an answer, it's so far from every truth."