Ga. Lawmaker Faces Calls To Resign After Shown Shouting Slurs, Baring Butt On TV Show

Posted at 10:48 AM, Jul 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-23 10:48:30-04

ATLANTA (NBC News) — A Georgia state representative is facing calls to resign after video showed him shouting racial slurs and showing his butt on a Showtime television show.

During a nationally televised segment on comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s Showtime series "Who Is America?" that aired Sunday night, Georgia State Rep. Jason Spencer (R -Woodbine) was shown yelling the "n-word" multiple times and baring his buttocks.

Gov. Nathan Deal said he was "saddened and disgusted" by Spencer’s behavior. GOP candidate for governor Casey Cagle called for Spencer’s immediate resignation in a statement Monday morning.

"Rep. Spencer’s behavior embarrasses the state of Georgia, dehumanizes many proud Georgians and offends any sense of decency," Cagle said. "Even though his constituents wisely defeated him at the ballot box in the May primary, his term runs through the end of the year. He has no business drawing a paycheck from taxpayers for one more day."

Cohen, best known to American audiences for his parody character Borat, was portraying an Israeli anti-terror expert in Sunday night’s episode. In a prior episode, Cohen, playing the same character, had tricked several other lawmakers and gun rights advocates into expressing support for arming young children.

Over the course of the segment, Cohen persuaded Spencer to participate in what he apparently thought was anti-terror training.

The so-called training exercise included a segment with Spencer "pretending to be Chinese" so he could take an upskirt photo of a Muslim woman to see if it was actually a male terrorist.

During another portion of the "training exercise," Cohen got Spencer to repeatedly yell the "n-word" and drop his pants on camera after telling him that by doing so, it would intimidate terrorists.

In a post-credits segment, Spencer was seen yelling the "n-word" into the camera once again, using a form of the word that is specifically offensive to Arabic persons.

Last week, apparently in an effort to get in front of the Cohen segment, Spencer issued a statement lashing out at Cohen for tricking him in the same way he has tricked other politicians including Sarah Palin, Bernie Sanders and Dick Cheney in recent weeks.

"The makers of this film fraudulently induced me in participating in bogus self-defense and anti-terrorism training after they learned of the legislation I introduced in November 2016 that provoked death threats against me and my family," Spencer said. "They took advantage of my fears that I would be attacked by someone inspired by the vile rhetoric used against me."

At the time he released his statement last week, Spencer said he planned to seek legal action against Cohen and the production company behind the "Who Is America?" series.

The series description for "Who Is America?" says the show "explores the diverse individuals, from the infamous to the unknown" in the nation. Some of those featured in the series say they were tricked into participating, including Palin, Sanders, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer and others. Palin called Cohen "evil" and his humor "sick."

Spencer doubled down on the allegations saying "this media company’s deceptive and fraudulent behavior is exactly why President Donald Trump was elected."

Spencer initially came to Cohen’s attention after filing, then withdrawing, a bill in 2016 that critics said would have effectively blocked Muslim women from wearing veils in public.

In 2017, Spencer got into a social media exchange with State Rep. LaDawn Jones (D – 62nd Dist., Atlanta) over the removal of Confederate statues from places of prominence around the state. Jones is also an 11Alive News political analyst.

During the Facebook exchange, Spencer posted a response that seemed to warn that Jones she could "disappear" if she made those sentiments known to some of the south Georgia communities he represents.

His statements made national headlines before he walked them back, expressing respect for Jones, her positions and her willingness to engage in debate.

Spencer has also been at odds with the Catholic Church, referring to it as a "pro-child predator special interest group."

After four terms in the Georgia State House, Spencer will not be returning to the General Assembly next term. The 43-year-old physician’s assistant lost his party’s nomination in this year’s Republican Primary to newcomer candidate Steven Sainz