Pat McPherson, the Republican member of the Nebraska State Board of Education who runs a right-wing blog that has repeatedly called President Obama a “half-breed” and refers to LGBT people as “queers and perverts,” says he will not step down from his position.
After Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican, called for McPherson to resign after the contents of his blog came to light, the embattled board member released a statement insisting that he did not write the racist blog entries and that his resignation would be “a tacit admission of the false accusations being made that I am a racist”:
Doing so would be a tacit admission of the false accusations being made that I am a racist. I am not. It would also reward the partisan political efforts of the Nebraska Democratic Party as well as the efforts of the Nebraska State Education Association which spent $25,000 in support of my general election opponent. It would allow these entities to overturn the results of an election that they could not win.
I didn’t write and have disavowed the racist comment made on the blog. I am also respectful of the First Amendment rights of others short of yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater.
I eagerly await the opportunity to work with my fellow board member as well as with Governor Ricketts in improving education for all Nebraska children. I will work earnestly to support the needs of parents and teachers as well. We have lots of challenges and work to do.
As we’ve reported, the racist slurs against the president are far from the only incendiary posts on McPherson’s blog.
Local branches of the NAACP have also asked for McPherson to step down:
The Omaha and Lincoln branches of the NAACP issued a joint statement Thursday calling for his resignation and condemning the blog entries.
“This behavior draws into question Mr. McPherson’s ability to equitably represent all students in the Nebraska school system,” according to the groups.
Four of McPherson’s seven colleagues on the state board, whom The World-Herald was able to contact Thursday, said the board would have a hard time moving ahead with McPherson in office.
Rachel Wise, the board’s president, said she has been exploring the options available to the board.
“The board doesn’t have the authority, as a board, to request his resignation,” she said. “Certainly, individual board members can express that view. My personal view is I think this is a distraction from our work.”
She said McPherson’s resignation would help the board move forward.
“But legally it’s his prerogative to resign,” she said.
Wise said the board has not met to discuss the matter, so she wasn’t speaking on behalf of the board.
“I personally will not tolerate any racism, bigotry, discrimination,” she said. “I believe strongly that our work is about all children. Any impressions that take away from our ability to form strong educational policy for all children in Nebraska detracts from our work.”