Nevada Republican steps down after racist history uncovered

Ira Hansen
Nevada Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, speaks on the Assembly floor during the second day of a special session at the Nevada Legislature, on Sept. 11, 2014, in Carson City, Nev.

A Nevada state Republican speaker-elect—found to have written a decade-old column expressing racist, sexist, and homophobic views—is stepping down from his new leadership role, but he’s not going quietly.

Republican Ira Hansen was named by his party to be the next speaker of the State Assembly; shortly after, a local newspaper published excerpts of a 13-year old newspaper column highlighting controversial and at times downright offensive remarks.

Hansen will stay in his Assembly seat, he told msnbc on Monday, but declined to discuss the matter further. 

In an email to his caucus obtained by local journalist Jon Ralston, he wrote, “I need to step down. I hope that you all know that the Ira that you have known through these years and weeks is the real Ira and not what the media is painting me to be.”

In a statement sent to msnbc, Hansen called the article a “carefully orchestrated attack to remove a conservative Republican from a major leadership role in State government” and “character assassination” that “totally distorted my views and record.”

Related: GOPer allegedly wrote column about 'simple minded darkies'

Here’s a few, select examples from the Reno News and Reviews’ examination of the archives.

Hansen blamed the Oklahoma City bombings on the Clinton administration, calling it a “masterfully manipulated” move to turn public opinion in favor of the government.

On women, he says the “women’s liberation movement” caused a rise of divorce rates, illegitimacy, child abuse, and abortion and argues that women should be kept out of the armed forces because they’ll claim sexual harassment when men stare at them.

On race, Hansen writes that he proudly flies a Confederate flag “in honor and in memory of a great cause,” and calls the public school system “educational slavery,” a ploy by Democrats to be the “benevolent master knowing what’s best for his simple minded darkies.” He argues that African-Americans display a “lack of gratitude” to white people for ending their enslavement.

On gay people, Hansen repeatedly credits child abuse by priests and others to homosexuality.

Despite the fact that wrote and published each and every example published, he said it’s only because he became a party leader that they were unearthed. 

“It was only when I had risen to leadership that this smear campaign occurred. That is the real reason for this and it is vital the public understands that,” he said in a statement.

Related: Is Nevada the new North Carolina?

The Reno News and Review published excerpts from his writings last week, explaining that the archives were difficult to access.

“No Nevada official has ever given the public a more detailed blueprint to his thinking than Hansen,” author Dennis Myers wrote. “We reviewed every column on microfilm for this piece, covering a period of 13 years, plus a few that did make it onto the Trib website. In these columns, his viewpoint evolved very little. In fact, some columns ran unchanged time and again as the years passed.”

Hansen criticizes the author, alleging a personal motive because Hansen had attacked him in the past. The author responded that Hansen had attacked the author  and many others during his years as a columnist.

“If the only people who could write about him were people he had never criticized, this story might never have been reported,” Myers said.