Lawmaker Catching Heat for NBA Tweet Often Feisty
The Minnesota legislator whose tweet about the NBA aroused cries of racism is known as a feisty lawmaker who has long enjoyed ribbing his liberal counterparts.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, a fifth-term Republican from Farmington, has faced an avalanche of criticism for suggesting pro basketball players had criminal tendencies. About three-fourths of the NBA’s players are black, according to a 2013 report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport
"Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime," Garofalo tweeted Sunday night.
His post has drawn hundreds of comments - some branding him a racist and others using statistics to rebut the idea of rampant violations in the NBA compared to American society in general - and been retweeted more than 1,100 times. Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic Party, took to his own Twitter account to call Garofalo’s post "incredibly racist."
Garofalo, 42, declined a request for an interview Monday but didn’t back down in text message to The Associated Press.
"Pro sports leagues have a problem with some of their athletes obeying the law," Garofalo wrote in the text message. "This problem transcends race and is a symptom of the value athletes believe society puts on their athletic talent."
The blunt commentary is nothing new for Garofalo, who regularly makes sharp-tongued speeches on the Minnesota House floor and even edgier remarks online.
Garofalo’s Twitter feed is typically a mix of sarcastic takes on politics, pop culture and sports. During football and NASCAR seasons, he offers his predictions via his pet whom he dubs "Buddy The Sports Gambling Dog."
"If the bird watching, hippy, tofu-eating vegan liberals in Minneapolis had their way, the Iron Range never would have mined taconite either," he tweeted last month, referring to a statewide debate over a copper-nickel mine project proposed for northern Minnesota.