The following is the statement that Rep. Michael Merrifield read on the floor of the House of Representatives, after the Blog “Face the State” this week publicized the inflammatory e-mail that he sent to Sen. Sue Windels last Dec. 8, claiming there is a “special place in Hell” for some proponents of school vouchers and charter school.
On Friday, Merrifield stepped down as chairman of the House Education Committee. The Democrat from Colorado Springs, who is undergoing treatment for throat cancer, remains on the committee as a member.
Keep reading for Merrifield’s full statement.
This e-mail, written from my home in Colorado Springs in early December, was intended to be a private communication between me and my friend, a colleague in the Senate. It was never intended to be offensive. Despite the private nature of the e-mail, I deeply regret my strong language and disrespectful tone. I am sorry for any offense taken.
I vented my frustration at political opponents on the school board in my district, and my comments were narrowly tailored to the recall election there.
I regret if they have caused misunderstanding, hurt, or offense. I never meant to disparage the parents who are advocating for their children’s best interests.
My record on charter schools, privatization and vouchers is clear and consistent. The voters and my colleagues know how passionate I am on these issues, and I have felt this way for years.
I am confident that anyone who has brought an issue before the Education Committee has been treated fairly, with tolerance, respect and with open minds. Most importantly, I remain committed to working with people who represent a broad range of perspectives to craft public policy that promotes world-class schools for Colorado, and for all our children.
“I don’t want my remarks or my health to sidetrack the important work of the House Education Committee. Accordingly, I am asking Rep. Solano to assume my duties as chair for the remainder of the session.”
More to come.
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org