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Spruill Apologizes For Muslim Remark

Tim Craig

Del. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake) apologized today for saying on the House floor yesterday that he doesn't like to hear prayers of different religions, "especially those of the Muslim faith that I don't care too much about."

Spruill, who is also a member of the Democratic National Committee, issued his apology moments after his employer, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran, urged him to do so.

Beside being a delegate and a DNC member, Spruill is a paid consultant for the Moran campaign when the General Assembly is not in session. Moran is paying Spruill $7,500 a month to do outreach in the African-American community, although his salary is suspended during the 45-day legislative session.

During a House floor debate Wednesday, Spruill spoke out against a bill that would allow state police chaplains to use "Jesus" in public prayers. After Spruill's comment about Muslims were reported on in the Virginian Pilot, some Democrats and Ben Tribbett, who runs the Not Larry Sabato blog, sought to link him to Moran.

In a statement, Spruill said "the intent of my comments was misinterpreted."

"If anyone was offended, please know that I extend my deepest apology for the remarks and the sentiment that was conveyed," Spruill said. "While I am a devout Christian, I do not hold the belief that my faith or any other faith entitles any American to special privileges or considerations."

Earlier in the afternoon, Moran strategist Mame Reiley called on Spruill to apologize.

She noted Spruill made his remarks in his capacity as a delegate, and not as a represenative of the Moran campaign.

"Delegate Spruill is an elected official who can and will speak his mind on the floor of the General Assembly and elsewhere," Reiley said. "Delegate Spruill has been a part of our campaign team. At this time -- during the legislative session -- he is not a paid consultant of Virginians for Brian Moran. I know that Delegate Spruill would not intentionally offend the members of any faith, but I understand why some may find his comments offensive."

By Tim Craig  |  February 5, 2009; 2:36 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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An apology is not enough. Brian Moran has to fire this monkey. Spruill needs to learn that there is no room for bigots in the DNC.

Posted by: August30 | February 5, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Nice choice of words, August30. Calling an African-American man a "monkey" is deeply offensive. Perhaps you should look in the mirror before calling someone else a bigot.

On the other hand, perhaps now you might understand how a well-intended comment can cause offense. Lets see a virtual show of hands here of everyone who has said something that they immediately regretted.

Posted by: hisroc | February 5, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"I understand why some may find his comments offensive."

Seems like no matter who the Moran is, Mame Reilly is always out there apologizing for someone.

Posted by: DCSoxFan | February 5, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Lionell Spruill is African American? Sorry to call him a monkey. I meant baboon. Moran should fire him and put him on a one way flight to Africa. BTW, most muslims are more educated than him.

Posted by: August30 | February 5, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

perhaps if people would concentrate on reality instead of the statements that they consider offensive from a political animal(is this person a monkey?) this country is involved in a religious war worldwide. JIHAD is keyword. these fanatical lunatics are NOT racist. kill anyone that does not subscribe to their doctrine is the goal.

Posted by: pofinpa | February 5, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh please...first you insult the monkeys and now the babboons? The man, regardless of his race, was an insensitive jerk. He has admitted this. We'll see from future actions whether this is in fact the sign of a bigot or just a jerk who spoke before he thought. Despite normally being extremely sensitive to race issues, I'd be willing to give the man one more chance. And being that he'll now be in the spotlight from this incident, we'll see if he deserved the second chance or not.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | February 5, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

What about calling out James Moran for his numerous anti-Jewiah comments is this something symptomatic with Virginia Democrats, that usually gets thrown under the rug and ignored by the WAPO. In fact i am surprised they even printed this column.

Posted by: zcxnissan | February 5, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Spruill should resign from the Moran campaign and lie low until the campaign is over. Or longer.
Somebody want to tell me what part of what Mame Reilly said wasn't true?
And we're not under attack from jihadists, who are NOT mainstream Muslims. Once they saw that Bush was willing to destroy our economy by spending on meaningless "security" and unnecessary wars, they realized that they had accomplished their mission.

Posted by: jlhare1 | February 5, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Ok, that baboon / monkey comment was really wrong. if that poster is muslim, how can he say such a think when some of the most revered figures in islamic history were black?

as far as the political comment goes, muslims are pretty much resigned to the fact that we are the only group of people that can be verbally abused by politicians of this country. and then if we complain, someone will make some tangential excuse like, "what about the antisemetic stuff that so and so said, you weren't complaining then"

Posted by: fahdp | February 5, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Lionell Spruill's "apology" and Moran strategist Mame Reiley's "explanation" remind me of the saying that 'an insincere apology makes a second insult'.
Let us not seek to justify a grievous wrong by attacking Muslims or, by going off into racism.
An insult was meant and made by Spruill. Regardless of whether he resigns or not, Moran's future relationship with Spruill will tell more than the hot air expended after the fact.

Posted by: jeffsiddiqui | February 7, 2009 2:48 AM | Report abuse

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