DENVER — Two weeks ago, the last meeting of a Colorado task force on economic opportunity and poverty exploded into allegations of racism when Sen. Vicki Marble, a Republican, attempted to explain high poverty rates among African Americans by talking about chicken.
Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Rep. Rhonda Fields, an African American lawmaker, and all but the most extreme Colorado Republicans distanced themselves from Marble, R-Fort Collins.
So on Wednesday, when the task force met for the first time since the Aug. 21 hearing, a box of Popeye’s fried chicken placed conspicuously on Rep. Lori Saine’s desk inside the senate committee room drew the attention of several lawmakers and observers in the room.
One witness heard Saine, who represents District 63 in Weld and Morgan counties, telling Marble that she brought the chicken in ‘silent protest’ of the uproar caused by Marble’s comments last month.
When Saine left the hearing room, I tried to ask her for an explanation.
“I’m having chicken for dinner,” Saine replied, laughing. “Would you like a [press conference] at my house?”
For the next three minutes, I followed Saine throughout the Capitol as she walked in a circle through the rotunda and back to the elevators, then down to the basement, and through the cafeteria until she left the building.
Repeatedly, she refused to say anything other than, “I’ve made my statement.”
Here’s the unedited video of our attempted interview:
When we asked Marble about the chicken, she said she had “no idea” what we were talking about.
That, interestingly, was a couple hours after Marble “favorited” a tweet from FOX31 Political Reporter Eli Stokols. who first observed the Popeye’s box — his tweet included a photo of Saine sitting right behind it.
First poverty hearing since @VickiMarble chicken flap – and @lorisaine actually brought Popeyes. #COpolitics #COleg pic.twitter.com/6kSRMsmxfi
— Eli Stokols (@EliStokols) September 4, 2013
Fields, D-Aurora, who didn’t notice the box of chicken herself, was dismayed to hear about it after the hearing.
“This is just another distraction, but I’m not surprised,” she said. “It’s just the same people showing their true character.”
My daughter and I are enjoying dinner tonight; this is one of her favorite meals: pic.twitter.com/nCL2Xg4KXW
— Lori (@lorisaine) September 5, 2013
Owen Loftus of the Colorado Republican Committee called Saine’s actions “insensitive and hurtful.”
In a statement he said, “Saine’s actions on Wednesday do not represent the Colorado Republican party” and “she mus apologize for them.”