Lawmaker who used racial slurs, dropped pants on Sacha Baron Cohen show urged to resign

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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What You Need to Know: Jason Spencer

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston demanded that state Rep. Jason Spencer resign after he yelled racial slurs and exposed himself in an episode of Sacha Baron Cohen's Showtime series that aired late Sunday.

Spencer dropped his pants and repeatedly used the N-word in the episode of "Who Is America?" Spencer had earlier threatened legal action to prevent the network from airing footage of him.

In a statement shortly after the episode aired, Ralston said Spencer's actions and language in the video are "reprehensible."

"Rep. Spencer has disgraced himself and should resign immediately," Ralston said. "Georgia is better than this."

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Although Spencer was defeated in the Republican primary in May, he remains a state legislator until newly elected lawmakers take office after the November election.

Cohen, who played an Israeli military expert, persuaded Spencer to take part in what he was told was a counterterrorism video. Cohen gets him to yell racial epithets and shimmy his exposed rear-end toward purported attackers screaming “USA” and “America” by saying it will ward off terrorists.

In the show’s closing minutes, Spencer returns to the screen with a “message to the terrorists.”

He then repeats a racial slur, this time threatening to cut off an attacker's genitals. Then it shows him stabbing a knife into the groin area of a dummy clad in a black hijab and shoving another item in the dummy's mouth. The segment ends with him reminding the audience he's an elected official  and a Georgia peach logo.

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The New York Times called the segment the "most humiliating yet to air" on Cohen's show, which last week featured several Republican lawmakers and gun rights supporters backing a fictitious program to teach kindergartners to use firearms.

Spencer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that the show's producers "took advantage of my fears that I would be attacked by someone" to convince him to appear on the program.

“They exploited my state of mind for profit and notoriety,” said Spencer, who said he was denied the chance to have final approval over what will air. “This media company’s deceptive and fraudulent behavior is exactly why President Donald Trump was elected.”

Spencer has declined further comment and could not immediately be reached late Sunday about Ralston's demand for his resignation. Showtime has denied that Cohen or the show's producers acted improperly.

Spencer was defeated by a Republican challenger after four terms representing a southeast Georgia district, where he grabbed headlines that enraged lawmakers from both parties.

He faced calls for resignation late last year after he warned a black former state legislator that she won't be "met with torches but something a lot more definitive" if she continued to call for the removal of Confederate statues in South Georgia.

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And Republican leaders roundly criticized his legislative proposal that would bar women from wearing burqas on public property, forcing him to withdraw the legislation.

This year, he shifted his focus toward a bill that would have allowed adult survivors of child sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits. The bill didn't pass amid stiff opposition from the Boy Scouts and some other nonprofit organizations.

As word spread about the footage early Monday, other groups echoed Ralston’s demand for Spencer’s resignation. Among them was the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has long tangled with Spencer.

Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the director of the group’s Georgia chapter, said “enough is enough.”

“The ignorance and malice behind Islamophobia has led Mr. Spencer to not only pursue bad policy,” he said, “but engage in humiliating and hateful behavior unbecoming of anyone – especially a state legislator.”

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