Editorials

Missouri Democrat should resign after defending radio host who specializes in racist rants

Missouri House of Representatives

Speaking of Missouri politicians who ought to resign immediately, Democratic Missouri state Rep. Bob Burns should pack his bags and wave goodbye to public life.

That way, he can spend even more time doing what he loves. Which apparently is calling in to carry on amiably on air with KQQZ-AM Radio’s Bob Romanik, of Belleville, Illinois, who specializes in racist rants.

Burns, who is from St. Louis, has repeatedly phoned in to mix it up with Romanik, a talk show host the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has said is “in love with the n-word.”

“I do not condone the rants and negative comments of the radio host,” Burns said Monday. Yet when he calls in, it’s not to challenge Romanik, but to chat.

During protests in St. Louis last fall, after the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley, whom the prosecution said had executed and then planted evidence on an African-American drug suspect, here’s how the radio host reponded on his show: “I say to you, black, greasy, bastard, no-count, good-for-nothing black religious leaders … you’ve pushed us a little bit too far.”

The lawmaker’s fellow Democrats want him gone ASAP.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who also happens to be his former boss, knows firsthand that Burns is highly flammable; when he was working for her, she briefly suspended him in 2010 for comparing conservative activists to Nazi “brownshirts.” She said back then that “I am embarrassed that a member of my staff would say something like that. He’s been suspended for a week without pay, and he’ll remain on probation after that time.”

Now, McCaskill is calling on Burns to resign, saying his “public statements of support for this individual do not reflect the values of the state of Missouri. And his failure to challenge such hateful rhetoric is a disservice to the Missourians he represents.”

The Missouri Democratic Party agrees, and has issued a statement that said there is “no room for racist, misogynistic or homophobic language in America.” So did state Rep. Gail McCann Beatty, the Democratic leader in the Missouri House, who said Burns has “disturbing records of calls” to someone “notorious for making racist on-air comments.”

In fact, no Democrat we’re aware of is standing up for Burns, and we hope he takes their advice.

But like that other Missouri politician who needs to go, Burns said Monday that he has “no intention of resigning” and has done nothing wrong.

He claimed unconvincingly that his comment to Romanik — “You’re saying the right things,” he told him — was taken out of context and “not connected to the host’s comments.”

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