Mar 27, 2014

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) on Wednesday slammed Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's "race hustlers" remark as "disgusting and divisive."

O'Reilly labeled Lee a 'race hustler' after she claimed remarks made by Republican congressman Paul Ryan about the inner cities were "thinly veiled racial attack."

Of course O'Reilly didn't call Lee out by name, but anyone familiar with this story knows who he was referring to when he made the following statement:

"These race hustlers make a big living and they get voted into office by portraying their constituents as victims," he said. "And it's all your fault, and it's my fault, it's the rich people's fault, it's the Republicans' fault. It's everybody's fault except what's going on."

Being the savvy politician that she is, Lee didn't waste an opportunity to address the controversy.  The following is a statement that was released by her office:

Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement responding to recent remarks made by FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly. A full clip of these comments can be found here.

“Unfortunately we’ve come to expect language like “welfare queens,” “food stamp president,” and now “race hustlers” from the right wing and Mr. O’Reilly. It is disgusting and divisive and should never be accepted in our national discourse.

“For us to achieve the American dream for all, we must engage in this conversation that has been sparked about race and poverty, even if it is difficult for some. Racial discrimination, poverty, and income inequality remain issues that must be debated and addressed, and these kinds of ‘code words’ only get in the way of solving the real problems.

“As members of Congress, we must come together to present a budget and funding priorities that create opportunity for all. We must make critical investments in job creation, education, and job training. Among many issues, we must address extending unemployment insurance, raising the minimum wage, enacting criminal justice reform, and securing voting rights for communities of color, so that we can truly find solutions to these critical issues.”


Follow Barbara Lee on Facebook and Twitter at @RepBarbaraLee. To learn more, visit

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of both the Congressional Black Caucus and Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the newly formed Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.


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