A week after claiming to be part of a “master race,” a county commissioner in Kansas has announced his resignation.
Louis Klemp tendered his resignation on Tuesday morning, shortly after telling Triveece Penelton, a black woman, that he wasn’t “picking on [her] because we’re part of the master race. You have a gap in your teeth. We are part of the master race, don’t you forget that.” The comment came during a county commissioners meeting near Kansas City, in a discussion about a new development project.
“It is with great sorrow that I am submitting this letter to the community that I love and have been a part of for more than 80 years,” Klemp wrote. “In order to maintain a focus and prioritize the needs of the county I have made a decision to resign.”
However, Klemp has continued to claim that his comments weren’t racist or “racially motivated,” but were instead something said in jest. “My attempts at identifying a similarity (space between our teeth) with a presenter were well-meaning but misinterpreted by some and definitely not racially motivated,” he wrote.
Klemp’s resignation came amidst rolling criticism about his comments, including from Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R). “Racial and discriminative language have no place in our society, and most especially when spoken by someone holding a public office,” Colyer said in a statement. “The inappropriate remarks made by Leavenworth County Commissioner Louis Klemp are unacceptable and do not reflect the values of the county which he represents. As such, I call on him to step down as County Commissioner.”
As it is, Klemp’s “master race” comment — echoing decades of claims that whites are superior to others — follows a series of other questionable comments he’s made since last year. For instance, Klemp described Confederate general and well-known traitor Robert E. Lee as a “wonderful part of history.”
He also questioned why Martin Luther King, Jr., has a federal holiday, but why George Washington is relegated to sharing Presidents’ Day. “It bothers me that if we’re going to have Martin Luther King Day, why don’t we have a George Washington [Day]?” Klemp said. “I think George was a pretty important guy.”