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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dept. of Umbrage



Talk about milking it. Democrats in Central Florida are trying make more hay over some comments last week by Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, accusing the congresswoman of harboring "hatred for minorities" and demanding a formal apology.

Last week, Brown-Waite had called residents of Puerto Rico and Guam "foreign citizens" during remarks about the federal economic stimulus package. Her point, if clumsily made, was that residents of U.S. territories who don't pay federal income taxes don't deserve tax rebate checks like U.S. residents.

She later clarified her remarks and said she should have used the term "territorial," rather than "foreign." Citizens of Guam and Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.

But the Orange County Chapter of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee, the Metropolitan Democratic Black Caucus of Orange County, the Florida Voters League Inc. and the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration office in Orlando now are trying to raise the volume.

"We call upon all residents of Florida of all backgrounds and ethnicities to join us in contacting Congresswoman Brown-Waite to  let her know that we will no longer tolerate bigotry and misrepresentation of Hispanics in our state," Millie Herrera, president of the state Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, said in a statement. "How  sad that in the 21st century we are represented by elected officials who still harbor such hatred for minorities."

Brown-Waite accused the Democrats of race-baiting and demagoguery.

"Those who are personally attacking me are just seeking to mask the fact that territorial residents will be getting rebate checks from federal income taxes they never paid," she said in a statement.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:09pm]


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