Earlier this morning we had a post giving the nuts and bolts of yesterday’s bizarre occurrence at the Louisiana Legislature – namely, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder running off the chairman of the Education Committee, Ray Garofalo, in an effort to appease the Legislative Black Caucus. The Black Caucus had been making threats for three weeks to Schexnayder, first attempting to blackmail him into forcing Garofalo to withdraw a bill he filed that would limit the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Louisiana’s public schools.
Then, more recently, threatening to derail Schexnayder’s middling tax reform package, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage.
The repercussions of Schexnayder firing Garofalo have only begun, but there is a core of conservative Republicans in the House who are very agitated about the treatment given to the third-term legislator from Meraux. It appears that’s getting back to Schexnayder and making him nervous.
Particularly after Wrong Way Clay’s hatchet man, House Speaker Pro Tem Tanner Magee, trashed Garofalo to Melinda Deslatte, the AP reporter covering the capitol…
GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder didn’t release a public statement about the decision. But the House’s second-ranking Republican, Rep. Tanner Magee, said Garofalo was asked Monday to temporarily step down from the chairmanship for the rest of the legislative session, not for the full term. Magee said Garofalo left the meeting and began telling people he was kicked out of the job.
“He was asked to put his personal ambition aside. He refused and left the meeting. Now he’s telling everyone he’s been removed so he can be a martyr,” Magee said Tuesday.
The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, which helped Schexnayder obtain the speaker’s job, had called for Garofalo’s ejection from the chairman’s job in late April and had been withholding support for a tax overhaul sought by Schexnayder and other legislative leaders.
“He’s a distraction from the goals of the session. He’s an obstacle. We would like to get some meaningful tax reform done,” Magee said. “Clay has given Ray every opportunity to participate and work with people so he would not have to be removed as chairman and accomplish tax reform. Ray has refused at every step and has dug his heels in.”
It was interesting that Magee turned out to be the one speaking for Schexnayder, because earlier today our sources told us Schexnayder was expected to put out a statement alleging that he simply asked Garofalo to give up the gavel of House Education for the rest of the session, and Garofalo quit in response.
A member of Garofalo’s family called the Speaker’s office to ask about his status this morning, and was first told that Garofalo had resigned. But then, after the family member responded that no, he had not voluntarily given up the Education chair post, a more senior staff member came on the line and stated no decision had been made on Garofalo’s status, and was overheard dressing down the first staffer for her initial answer.
If all this is giving you the impression that Louisiana’s legislature is run by morons, you aren’t wrong.
Given the circus this has become, Garofalo put out a press release a short while ago which lends a dramatic flair to today’s events…
Republican Speaker Chooses Black Democrats Over Fellow Republican Chairman
House Speaker Clay Schexnayder Removes Rep. Ray Garofalo as House Education Chairman when Garofalo refuses to permanently withdraw bill to stop pro-racism “Critical Race Theory” from being taught in Louisiana schools
BATON ROUGE, May 17 – After meeting with House Speaker Clay Schexnayder on Monday and being asked by the Speaker to step down as Chairman of the House Committee on Education for the remainder of this session, State Representative Ray Garofalo of Meraux, Louisiana refused and informed the Speaker he believes that his bill (HB 564) is more important to the students and families in Louisiana than the tax reform bills that the Speaker is pushing as part of his agenda. Upon hearing this the Speaker removed Garofalo as the committee chair.
Garofalo’s bill would prohibit divisive concepts from being taught in Louisiana schools which are part of what is commonly referred to as “Critical Race Theory” which promotes a pro-racist perspective on historical education basing everything on the color of one’s skin.
“It is the Speaker’s prerogative to choose who he wants to chair a committee” says Garofalo. “I have no problem with his exercising his authority, but I will not sacrifice my principles in doing what I know is right. My legislation is about protecting our children, not erasing or rewriting history as Critical Race Theory seeks to do.”
Garofalo also wants to clarify incorrect information that has been circulating. It has been reported the Black Democratic Caucus in the House wanted Garofalo removed as Education Chairman supposedly due to some comment he made about the historical perspective of slavery. The fact is that members of the Black Caucus have told me they wanted me removed because of my bill (HB 564) and it had nothing to do with my comment” says Garofalo.
Garofalo says he’s heard the various theories behind why the Speaker sacrificed him over the Black Caucus – mostly surrounding getting the Black Caucus support for tax reform legislation the Speaker is pushing. Garofalo adds “I understand the importance of the tax reform bill the Speaking is trying to push, but all I can tell you is I’m trying to do the right thing when it comes to our children. Critical Race Theory is a cancer they are trying to inject into the bloodstream of school districts all over
our nation. It poisons the education system by creating division based on race, going against everything we’ve worked for over the past 60 years to create equality among Americans.”
Garofalo says what might best describe this entire situation, which has intentionally been blown out of proportion to mislead the public, can be best understood in the letter he is sending to his fellow members of the Louisiana House of Representatives:
Members: It has been nearly three weeks since I presented HB 564 in committee. Since that presentation, I have been the subject of much speculation and my chairmanship has been questioned daily. As a chairman, you must have the support of leadership to accomplish your duties and responsibilities, and the barrage of speculation and failure of leadership to support my
position significantly reduced my ability to carry out those responsibilities. Now, after three long weeks, the Speaker has removed me as chairman of Education. I want to be clear; I did NOT voluntarily step down as chairman.
Each time that I have met with the Speaker regarding this issue, I requested a plan of action regarding the situation. Consistently, I was not given a plan. Nevertheless, I have followed the Speaker’s instructions hoping that he had a plan toward resolution of the issue, but unfortunately the daily questions persisted. Finally, today he asked me to “step aside” for the remainder of this session and I refused, resulting my removal.
Let me be crystal clear… I didn’t do anything incorrect, immoral, or offensive. I filed a bill that would ban critical race theory – a cancer that is dividing our nation based on skin color. I used a term that is commonly used to describe the “totality” of any group of information to describe what should be taught about slavery. Clearly I was referring to teaching “everything” and I was NOT taking a position regarding any aspect of slavery.
My ability to function successfully as a legislator was being held hostage by a group of legislators who threatened to withhold votes on tax reform legislation. While the tax reform bills are important, they are no more important than the fight to ensure a discrimination-free environment for Louisiana students. At least now I’m able to get back to work fighting for our students and teachers – and believe me, there is still a lot of fight left in me.
Statement Regarding HB 564
I believe that it is important for me to issue a statement regarding the events surrounding my testimony, and the objective of, HB 564.
I am disappointed that the opponents of this bill would respond to and embrace unfounded accusations against anyone without first investigating the facts surrounding said accusations. Attacking my personal character shows their efforts at a misinformation campaign for the sole purpose of distracting from the primary focus and point of the bill – to provide a discrimination free learning environment that provides equal opportunity for all students, regardless of race or
background and to prevent our education system from being used to promote a political agenda within our schools. Almost daily we are starting to see in the news how this has become a major problem in school districts across our nation, including Louisiana – and it is spreading.
I understand that politics can be a battle, but I truly believe that we are all working to improve our state for every resident, and that we as a body can and should rationally discuss the issues and work together (maybe not always agreeing) toward a common goal.
I am being accused of thoughts and motivation that most of you know are NOT true. Even for those who I have not worked with for a significant length of time, the video from the presentation is clear evidence of the false accusations and smears.
Even more disturbing to me is that I always strive to help all members with any issue they are pursuing, even if it is not related to my committee or an issue I agree with. I would have hoped that every member was reasonable enough to watch the presentation in question and, even with the most critical view, realize that the phrase that I used, good-bad-ugly, was clearly and unequivocally used to demonstrate that everything or anything about a given issue should be included in a presentation or discussion, and that I was not referring to, or advocating, any position on that particular issue.
When you watch the video, you see that I used the same phrase other times to describe the types of facts that may, and should, be taught according to the bill (as is clearly evident in the discussion and video) which supports that I used the phrase specifically for that reason… To generically describe the “types” of facts that could, and should, be taught to Louisiana students – not to take a position on whether any of the facts have merit.
Regarding the merits of the bill, it would provide a learning environment for everyone associated with our education system that is free of discrimination. An equal opportunity environment that doesn’t pick winners and losers based on the color of their skin, sex or background. Is that not what we want for our children?
According to the direct language of the bill, it would NOT prevent discussion of any history or issues, and in fact supports and encourages discussion among students.
I sincerely hope that the mischaracterization of my thoughts, intent, goals, and character is due to a lack of research, and that anyone who has questions will ultimately perform further research to discover the truth. Let me assure you, this entire event has only strengthened me and made me more determined to fight for the truth.
As I always offer, if you would like to discuss this further, please contact me at any time.
Then it got even better. Garofalo sent out this statement…
I want to make it clear that during these past few weeks that Speaker Schexnayder has completely agreed with and supported me and my efforts to prevent Critical Race Theory from being taught in our schools. He supports the legislation and has agreed that my comments were taken out of context for political gain. The Speaker has known about HB 564 since well before it was drafted, and it was brought forward this session because of his support.
Last night, he made it clear that he was sacrificing me to the Black Caucus, who seem to be controlling the Louisiana House of Representatives this term. I was told that I was removed as Chairman BECAUSE I would not voluntarily step down.
If he’s saying I’m not removed, then I can tell you that HB 564 will be heard in our next committee and it will be heard on the House floor shortly after.
We can’t tell you what will happen. We can tell you what ought to happen, which is that there ought to be 36 Republicans in that House of Representatives willing to vote to kill every single one of the bills in that tax reform package tomorrow when they come up for a vote, and then a motion for a vote of no confidence ought to be made. And the same motion ought to be made every single day the House meets until Schexnayder is gone – something which would then be inevitable, because the Black Caucus would smell blood in the water and continue making demands of escalating absurdity knowing he’s over a barrel, until such time that he either tells them no or alienates 53 of the 68 Republicans in the House who then have the votes to dump him and put someone else in who isn’t beholden to the Black Caucus.
No, that’s not what we’re predicting. But like Charles Krauthammer said, what cannot continue will not continue. And this kind of performance from Wrong Way Clay cannot continue. Something’s got to give.