North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger, who represents portions of Charlotte and its suburbs in the House, apologized late Thursday after suggesting in a BBC News interview that the protesters in Charlotte “hate white people.” Those comments came a day after he asked on CNN, “Where is the spirit of Martin Luther King?”
1. On September 21, Pittenger Asked ‘Where Is the Spirit of Martin Luther King’ After the Protests Turned Violent
On the day before his “hate white people” comments, Pittenger, a Republican, was on CNN, where he told Don Lemon that he thoguht the demonstrations and riots wee “out of context of reality.”
“What we see now is just totally unacceptable,” Pittenger continued. “Where is Martin Luther King today? Where is the spirit of Martin Luther King? We cherish him and his memory every February, and we honor him, and yet, where is the spirit of that?”
2. Pittenger Said the Protesters ‘Hate White People’ Because ‘White People are Successful And They’re Not’
While on the BBC, Pittenger was asked about the unrest.
“The grievance in their mind is the animus, the anger. They hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” Pittenger said. “We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, where we put people in bondage so they can’t be all that they’re capable of being. America is a country of opportunity, of freedom, of liberty. It didn’t become that way because of a great government that provided everything for everyone.”
In his apology for his comments, Pittenger said that he was “quoting statements made by angry protestors last night on national TV” and was trying to focus on “the lack of economic mobility for African-Americans because of failed policies.”
Here is his full statement:
What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart. My anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret. The answer doesn’t reflect who I am. I was quoting statements made by angry protestors last night on national TV. My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African-Americans because of failed policies. I apologize to those I offended and hope we can bring peace and calm to Charlotte.
3. Pittenger Introduced the Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act, Which was Later Signed by President Obama
Pittenger’s biggest achievement in Washington has been introducing the Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act of 2013, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in May 2014. As WBTV notes, the law requires the U.S. Attorney General to create child abuse prevention law reports on each state within six months of the law being signed.
“Once again, I find myself battling mixed emotions,” Pittenger said when the law was signed. “This new law is a victory on behalf of children. Starting today, America is doing more to keep our precious children safe. But no happy, bright, little girl should ever become the face of child abuse legislation. Kilah’s sweet smile should be lighting up birthday parties or dance recitals or melting her grandfather’s heart.”
The law was named after Kilah Davenport, who was beaten by her stepfather when she was three years old and died in March 2014. Her stepfather was sentenced to eight to 10 years in prison.
4. Pittenger Sits on the House Committee on Financial Services
Pittenger sits on the House Committee on Financial Services. He’s also on the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, and Monetary Policy and Trade subcommittees.
Pittenger is a two-term Congressman, first elected in 2012 after Representative Sue Myrick retired. He represents North Carolina’s ninth district, which was redrawn for the 2016 election, but it still includes portions of Charlotte.
5. Pittenger Is Under an FBI Investigation Over Ties with a Real-Estate Company
Pittenger, like all members of the House, is up for re-election this November. However, he has an ongoing FBI and IRS investigation hanging over his head. The Charlotte Observer reported that federal authorities are investigating his ties to his former real estate company, Pittenger Land Investigations. He has denied any wrongdoing and asked the House Ethics Committee to do its own investigation to confirm that he didn’t do anything wrong.
The Observer reports that investigators are looking into the personal contributions Pittenger made to his 2012 campaign to see if the money was transferred directly from the company, which his wife now runs.
Pittenger is facing a tough re-election big. In addition to the investigation, the Congresswoman he replaced, Sue Myrick, decided to support his opponent, Rev. Mark Harris. Pittenger’s district was also redrawn ahead of the November election.