A Republican in Oklahoma who made headlines last week when he said Native Americans are "predisposed to alcoholism" emphatically apologized Monday, and said his statement was based on "outdated information."
House Representative Todd Russ made the controversial comment on April 21 during a debate on a proposed expansion of liquor and strong beer sales at grocery and convenience stores in the state.
In an email to ICTMN on Monday, Rep. Russ recalled a torrent of pain and loss alcoholism has caused his family, and as consequence of that he said, "I let my emotions cloud my thoughts and words."
Read Rep. Russ's full apology below:
I apologize for the unintended pain I have caused Native Americans by my statement that was based upon outdated information. I hope this misstatement has opened the dialogue that ensures the most accurate and current information is communicated. Opportunities to be more informed are welcomed as it gives me the knowledge to make the most educated decisions when I vote for legislation.
Substance abuse has NO preference of race, gender, ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status. I have been personally affected by the misery caused from substance abuse by loved one’s myself. As a young boy, I witnessed the sadness of alcoholism with my Grandfather whom I loved dearly. As a result of my own family’s predisposition to alcoholism, I latter [sic] witnessed the direct and indirect effects of alcohol on four of my five siblings. Unfortunate choices that started with alcohol bombarded those I loved the most. I am sad to say that we have since buried 2 of my younger brothers.
My life has been ripped and torn and broken from the dark nature of alcohol from my childhood. Because of my personal experiences, I am passionate about derailing efforts of the intoxicating liquor and wine industries to make alcohol even more readily available with fewer restrictions. In my concern for the unsuspecting public and other social groups, I let my emotions cloud my thoughts and words. I am very sorry and truly meant no hurt or harm.
I was elected to represent a beautifully diverse district and I work diligently to ensure everyone is represented. I take and will continue to take opportunities to immerse myself in the diversity so that I build relationships that strengthen the people whom I serve.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to share my intentions and my heart.
Rep. Todd Russ