Chapa LaVia apologizes over racial comments

  • State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, an Aurora Democrat, apologized for saying Illinois House Republicans have "a half" minority among them.

    State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, an Aurora Democrat, apologized for saying Illinois House Republicans have "a half" minority among them. Zach White | Staff Photographer

Updated 4/10/2014 6:09 PM

State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia's busy time in Springfield the past few weeks -- from feuding with the Illinois High School Association over transparency to trying to move legislation restricting charter schools -- continued this week with questionable racial comments and an apology.

The Aurora Democrat apologized on the Illinois House floor Thursday for comments she made Wednesday saying Republicans have a minority official among them in the chamber who is "a half."


"Listen to me, minorities. I'm over here, because we're all over on this side, right?" Chapa LaVia said Wednesday during a debate over charter schools.

She then quickly added: "Wait, we have a half. We have a half."

Republican state Rep. John Anthony, of Morris, who is black with Puerto Rican heritage, responded in a prepared statement: "While I appreciate Representative Chapa LaVia's apology, I would rather she reconsider her attempt to systematically dismantle the charter school system in Illinois."

The Illinois House floor is often a rowdy place that can confuse visitors and is sometimes the stage for yelling, paper-throwing and statements that spur apologies.

Chapa LaVia apologized Thursday.

"I want to deeply apologize to my side of the aisle over here, my colleagues, my brothers and sisters for my personality meltdown yesterday," she said.

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"I deeply apologize for the words that came out of my mouth," she continued. "The tongue sometimes is the most dangerous part of somebody's body."

Chapa LaVia's charter schools proposal was rejected.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs urged lawmakers not to let those defeats get personal.

"We should never let that frustration ever translate into anything that could be perceived or is personal or hurtful," he said. "It's just not worthy of this chamber."

How they voted

Republican U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam of Wheaton and Randy Hultgren of Winfield voted for the federal budget proposal offered by Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan.


It was eventually approved.

Roskam pointed to Illinois' money woes in voicing support for spending cuts.

"The state of Illinois has tried that and it is a mess. And it's a mess that becomes worse," Roskam said on the House floor. "The longer the state waits, the worse the options are."

Democratic U.S. Reps. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, Brad Schneider of Deerfield, Bill Foster of Naperville and Jan Schakowsky of Evanston voted against it.

"I voted against the Ryan budget Thursday because it flies in the face of our values and places the burden of balancing the federal budget on those who can afford it the least," Schneider said.

Money money

Schneider's campaign against Republican Bob Dold of Kenilworth for one of them to get a second term in the North suburban 10th Congressional District has seen some active fundraising.

Schneider says he'll report raising about $550,000 in the first three months of the year, and Dold says he'll report about $520,000.

That's a lot, yet another hint foreshadowing the seriousness of the race that's to come.

Schneider was outspent by Dold in 2012, so the Democrat's camp is happy to see its candidate raising a little more money than Dold this time. The Republican Dold won't have to deal with President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket this time, though.

Weighing options

Among the Republicans weighing a run for Illinois House in the district recently left by former Democratic state Keith Farnham is Jeffrey Meyer, an attorney who once ran for Kane County Board.

Democrats appointed state Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin to take Farnham's place, and Republicans are looking for someone to appoint to run against her in November.

Local leaders can make the call in the coming months.

Meyer, of Elgin, says he's gauging whether he should try to make the run.

"We're exploring that," he said. "I'm making as many calls as I can."

No news

A spokesman for the Chicago-based U.S. attorney's office Thursday declined to say anything new about Farnham, who resigned after federal agents raided his office looking for child pornography.


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