POLITICS

GOP Lawmaker Said Black Welfare Recipients 'Substituted One Plantation For Another'

Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) also referred to benefits recipients as "parasites" on his radio show.

Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) called welfare recipients “parasites” and compared the benefits program to slavery in the most recent of a series of derogatory remarks unearthed by CNN.

In an April 2012 segment of his radio show, “The Jason Lewis Show,” the congressman suggested that black Americans who receive welfare are still living on a “plantation.”

“Blacks fought so hard ... so blacks could take care of themselves and not be told what to do,” Lewis said. “Now, you’ve got the modern welfare state that tells black folks and Hispanic folks and poor white folks: ‘Don’t worry. We’ll take care of you.’ What is the difference? You’ve substituted one plantation for another.”

In a September 2012 segment, Lewis again criticized welfare recipients, saying that Democrats won the White House in 2008 because of welfare “parasites.”

“It is possible because the Democratic dream come true is this: The parasites outnumber the producers,” Lewis said. “Then, when the parasites outnumber the producers, the party of parasites will give the majority of votes.”

A Lewis spokesperson told CNN that the outlet “is free to focus on past rhetoric instead of Congressman Lewis’ record in Congress, and they will no doubt continue to ignore the substance of the arguments, but it does little to add to the debate.”

Lewis’ deputy press secretary Carter Moelk redirected HuffPost’s request for comment to the congressman’s campaign, which did not immediately respond.

Lewis told Fox News on Friday that he contacted the police because of threats he and his daughters received after CNN published several stories about his past remarks, many of which contained racist or sexist language.

The lawmaker, who was first elected to represent Minnesota’s second district in 2016, is in the middle of a highly competitive re-election campaign. Cook Political Report called the race for his district a “toss-up,” meaning either party could win. 

It’s not the first time Lewis’ radio comments have come back to haunt him. During his 2016 bid, faced calls to quit the race for his past comments about women. He called single young women “ignorant.”

At a Thursday press conference, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he did not support Lewis’ comments but called him an “exemplary congressman who represents his constituents well.”

Lewis has not apologized for any of his remarks.

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