We mentioned yesterday some of the lowlights of newly appointed state drug director Denny Altes’ long career as a lawmaker, but I forgot perhaps Altes’ lowest moment: In 2005, then state Sen. Altes and Sen. Jim Holt introduced a bill that would have required officials to verify that anyone voting or taking advantage of any sort of public assistance was a U.S. citizen. This inspired one of Gov. Mike Huckabee’s finer moments.
From an AP report:
“[He] said Arkansans should be welcoming hardworking immigrants of all races. He singled out Holt, who often talks of his strong Christian beliefs, saying, “I drink a different kind of Jesus juice. My faith says don’t make false accusations against somebody. In the Bible, it’s called ‘don’t bear false witness.’ “
This episode, in turn, led to Altes’ infamous 2007 email exchange with a former Fort Smith mayor, who’d apparently written Altes to encourage him to keep fighting “illegal” immigration. Altes response somehow got in the hands of media. Now ACLU of Arkansas has helpfully reminded us of its existence.
Here’s part of what Altes wrote:
“All politics are local and I am for sending the illegals back but we know that is impossible. We are where we were with the black folks after the revolutionary war. We can’t send them back and the more we piss them off the worse it will be in the future. So what do we do. I say the governor needs to try to enforce the law and sign the letter of understanding with the INS and at least we can send the troublemakers back. Sure we are being overrun but we are being out populated by the blacks also. What is the answer. Only time will tell.”
Check out the full email to see Altes use the word “git” and complain about Republicans leaving “him high and dry.”
After the email became public, Altes made a tearful non-apology, telling the AP, “I’m sorry if it offended anyone, but I didn’t consider it a racist remark.”
Altes remained in the Senate until 2011. He then did a second term in the House until 2015.
ALSO: From somewhere in Europe, Max reminds me of another of Altes’ greatest hits: The time he told a Arkansas Court of Appeals employee he’d hold sombody’s budget if the unemployment system wasn’t “fixed.” Altes was upset over a long running unemployment compensation claim by a former employee of his sanitation business in Fort Smith. The Court of Appeals eventually ruled the employee was entitled to benefits.
“Should this man be put in any position of public trust?” ACLU of Arkansas asks. I think you know the answer.