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NAACP Blasts NV Speaker-Elect's Racial Comments

RENO, Nev. - The Reno-Sparks NAACP is calling on state Assembly Republicans to reconsider the recent election of Ira Hansen as speaker, saying the Sparks conservative has demonstrated a long history of racial insensitivity and bigotry.

Reno-Sparks NAACP President Jeffrey Blanck said Thursday that Hansen "has beaten the drum of intolerance for decades."

The local chapter posted a long list of controversial statements on its Web site attributed to Hansen over the past 20 years, mostly in columns he wrote for The Sparks Tribune.

Blanck's call for the election of a "less divisive" speaker comes on the heels of a report by the weekly Reno News & Review citing dozens of Hansen quotes offensive to women, gays and minorities.

Hansen provided the following statement late Thursday afternoon:

"I am deeply sorry that comments I have made in the past have offended many Nevadans. It is unfortunate that these comments, made almost 20 years ago as a newspaper columnist and talk radio host, have been taken out of context and are being portrayed as intentionally hurtful and disrespectful. These comments were meant to be purposely provocative in various political, cultural and religious views. I have the utmost respect for all people without regard to race, gender, religious or political beliefs."

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Hansen continued:

"I am committed to showing that actions are much louder than words and my office will always have an open door to all backgrounds and political viewpoints. This will not distract us from finding solutions to building a brighter and more prosperous Nevada."

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