House Rep. apologizes for offensive remark

OKLAHOMA CITY – One of our State Representatives is under fire for remarks he made at the Capitol.

Rep. Dennis Johnson, (R) Duncan, made a derogatory comment about the Jewish community while speaking on the house floor.

He was debating a bill dealing with small business.

That’s when Rep. Johnson threw in a comment that had more impact than he ever imagined.

He was recorded saying, “They might try to Jew me down on a price. That’s fine.”

Seconds later, another lawmaker stops him.

Once he was told the comment was offensive, he said,  “I apologize to the Jews; they’re good small businessmen as well.”

Remarks on the house floor that blew Rabbi Vered Harris away.

“I thought that it was pretty amazing, maybe a little breathtaking, that we still have prejudice comments that are made by knowledgeable leaders in our community,” Rabbi Harris sad.

The Rabbi said the concept connecting Jewish people to money negatively reaches back to the Middle Ages but hearing it now affects everyone.

‘It doesn’t further the cause of tolerance in our community, diversity or respect,” Rabbi Harris said.

Realizing that, Rep. Johnson sat down with News Channel 4 to apologize.

“This is a serious thing and I’m taking it seriously,” he said. “I don’t want to explain it away in any shape, form or fashion because it’s something that I did do. It was unintentional. I realize it has a real impact on people and I do apologize sincerely.”

Sincerity that reminds Rabbi Harris of everyday life.

‘We all have things that come out of our mouths and we say, ‘Oh no, not that one,’” Rabbi Harris said. “The Representative understood he said something that could be hurtful and did what we call in Yiddish, he behaved like a mensch, like the kind of person we want to be, the kind of person who seeks forgiveness and who says, ‘I made a mistake.’ We all make mistakes.”

House Democrats apologized for the statement Thursday morning, they sent this statement:

“Oklahoma is a unique melting pot of families from so many ethnic backgrounds and religions which together makes us a strong people. We embrace our individuality and weave a community of strengths. To this end- we feel shame when any one group is insulted.”