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Kentucky Legislators Apologize After Antisemitic Slur

State Senators Rick Girdler (left) of Somerset and Walker Thomas (right) of Hopkinsville

Two legislators in the state’s Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee have apologized after using anti-Semitic language when commenting on a state lease agreement on Tuesday. Rep. Walker Thomas, R-Hopkinsville, and committee chairman Sen. Rick Girdler, R-Somerset, both used the phrase “Jew them down” in reference to bargaining for a lower price on a lease. Thomas made the first use of the phrase following a brief presentation from Scott Aubrey, Director of the Division of Real Properties. Aubrey informed the committee of the Department of Corrections’ $1 lease from a company in Mayfield – needed due to the devastating Dec. 10 storms – and another $1 lease there from the same company for the Cabinet of Health and Family Services. Girdler then asks if there are any questions on the matter. Thomas is heard faintly on a hot mic laughing after asking if the state could “jew them down on the price.”

The committee chairman then repeats Thomas’ words, shortly thereafter recognizing their impropriety. “We’ve got a representative up here (asking) if you could Jew them down a little bit on the price,” Girdler said, pausing briefly. “That ain’t the right word to use. ‘Drop them down,’ I guess.” Thomas said he has heard the phrase “throughout” his life and offered an apology to anyone harmed by his use of it. “I sincerely regret using that term and apologize to anyone harmed by my use of it. This is not who I am, nor is it what my faith leads me to be,” Thomas said. “It is a phrase I have heard throughout my life, but this experience has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the impact that words have and the fact that we must be smarter today than we were yesterday.“ Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, executive director of Chabad of the Bluegrass and chairman of the Kentucky Jewish Council, called the phrase a “dangerous relic of a hateful bygone era” that has no place in Kentucky.