Dacono Republican Rep. Lori Saine denied on Thursday night that she told anyone that she'd chosen to eat chicken during a Wednesday meeting as a form of "silent protest" in support of Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins.
"Nobody could have possibly overheard me saying" that, Saine said in an interview. "I was simply having lunch."
During an Aug. 21 meeting of the Legislature's Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force, Marble sparked a controversy with remarks about what she said are "life-expectancy ... problems in the black race" such as sickle-cell anemia and diabetes -- with Marble then also commenting about how she personally enjoyed the barbecue and chicken she'd eaten in the South.
Marble also suggested at the meeting that Mexicans have healthier diets in that country than when they move to the United States.
On Wednesday, Saine, another member of the poverty task force, had a box of Popeye's fried chicken on the committee hearing room table in front of her, Denver TV station KDVR reported later that day. The station also reported that Saine had been overheard telling Marble that she'd brought the chicken "in silent protest" of the uproar over Marble's earlier comments.
When Saine left the hearing room, she told a KDVR reporter who'd asked her for an explanation that "I'm having chicken for dinner." She asked the reporter if he'd like a news conference at her house.
On Thursday evening, state GOP chairman Ryan Call said in a statement that "Rep. Saine's actions on Wednesday do not represent the Colorado Republican Party. They were insensitive and hurtful, and she must apologize for them."
Saine, however, told the Times-Call that she's "seriously perplexed" at what she said has been "some misreporting" of what happened Wednesday -- something she said she probably should have addressed Wednesday night or earlier on Thursday, after the KDVR story aired.
She objected to what she said had been an "embellishment to include Sen. Marble back into this. "
Said Saine: "I made no mention of Sen. Marble to anyone."
She said "everybody" on the task force had something to eat Wednesday before the panel adjourned: "It was a long day."
Saine said she personally had chosen chicken for her lunch because "I do like chicken a lot." She said her Popeye's box might have been more visible to picture-takers and to some of the people in the room than the other lawmakers' food preferences were, because "I was sitting on the end."
If her eating chicken at Wednesday's task force meeting was offensive, Saine said, "what should I be eating at the next session?"
As for Marble's comments two weeks ago, at the earlier task force meeting, Marble said in a subsequent statement that her remarks about blacks, Southern food and Mexican diets "were not meant to be disparaging to any community. I am saddened they were taken in that regard."
John Fryar can be reached at 303-684-5211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.