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Van de Putte retracts remark, accepts apology

From the Things That Happened While I Was Out Department: Sen. Leticia Van de Putte has retracted her charge that a Republican Senator, whom she has not named, made an ethnic slur to her in the presence of others.

The San Antonio Democrat also said the unidentified senator has apologized and called it “a closed matter.”

“I have nothing but respect for the men and women of the Texas Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike,” Van de Putte told the San Antonio Express-News after the Legislature adjourned. “And I am withdrawing any statements about comments in the members lounge.”

“What does that mean?” asked Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio, among the 19 Senate Republicans who signed a letter to Van de Putte demanding she reveal who made the comment or retract her story.

“At a minimum, she’s admitting she misspoke,” Wentworth said. “I guess it’s a step in the right direction.”


Van de Putte said she had intended to retract the account in remarks on the Senate floor Sunday during debate on a motion to remove 11 Democratic senators from probation — a penalty leveled by the GOP majority after the Democrats returned from holding out in New Mexico at the start of the session.

But the matter wasn’t taken up, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said, because there was not a majority in favor of lifting probation.

Van de Putte said she fielded an apology for the slur after it became public last week.

“Apology was made. Apology accepted,” she said. “It’s a closed matter.”

Wentworth said Van de Putte’s comment about the apology “continues to leave a cloud over all Republican senators. That is unfair.”

Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, informed of Van de Putte’s withdrawal, called the action “ambiguous” and said the 31 senators might need to sort out the issue in a closed-door caucus.

“The case would be closed if she were more forthcoming,” Janek said. “If it (the slur) was said, someone needs to come clean.

“If it wasn’t said, someone else needs to come clean.”

I suppose that’s the last we’ll hear of this, and I must say I have some sympathy for what Wentworth and Janek are saying. The most charitable explanation I can come up with is that she simply (and rather thoroughly) misheard something, and no one recognizes what it was that she actually heard. There must be some collegiality left in the Senate if Wentworth and Janek’s seeming willingness to let the matter drop is any measure, and for that she ought to be grateful.

There’s another possible interpretation of what happened, given more recent relevations that she’s experiencing health problems.

Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte revealed Thursday she is undergoing treatment for a serious medical condition, but is “absolutely not resigning” from the Texas Senate.

The San Antonio senator, who’ll be undergoing more tests today for several tumors found in her thyroid and other areas, responded to rumors raised by an online publication that she may step down from the Senate.

“This is a health problem but it’s not something worth resigning over,” said Van de Putte, 49, who has been under fire recently for alleging an unnamed Republican senator directed racist comments at her.

Van de Putte, up for re-election in 2004, said she went in for routine exams last week and a shadow appeared on one of the test results.

She declined to be more specific until doctors perform biopsies to determine a diagnosis.

“The weekend was kind of a scary time,” she said. “People need to be reminded to get stuff checked.”

Who knows, maybe that had an effect on what she thought she heard. In any event, whatever else may be the case, I’m sure we all wish her well with her diagnosis and treatment. Let’s hope she has some good news.

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One Comment

  1. Beldar says:

    I’m confused. She “retracted” her charge of saying that she was slurred. But she stopped short of saying that her charge was untrue. But she claims to have received an apology. (This contradiction is in the SA-EN story, I’m not suggesting it’s your fault or doing, I should add!)

    But you’re right, Kuff, it’s probably best to let that water flow on under the bridge. Watching the Texas Legislature for the last several months has been very much like being forced to watch nonstop episodes of “Divorce Court,” including the commercials. Neither side is exactly covered in glory, but the action has at least moved on to court (and, it seems, to speculation about who’s going to run in those new districts IF the new map stands up). We can all hope that Sen. Van de Putte — and, metaphorically, the personal rifts among legislators between and within each party — can get well soon.