Bill Clayton: "I apologize."

2013-01-23T05:00:00Z 2013-06-03T17:39:07Z Bill Clayton: "I apologize."Aaron Orlowski Journal staff Rapid City Journal
January 23, 2013 5:00 am  • 

Bill Clayton, the Rapid City council member charged with making racist comments, publicly apologized Tuesday night to a black television reporter for questioning her citizenship and suggesting she be deported to Kenya during a telephone interview.

He also said in his apology at the city council meeting that he was unaware of Taisha Walker’s race when he made the statements during the interview about an August 2012 vote on property taxes.

"I certainly did not know her skin color. That would not justify any racial remarks," Clayton said.

On Tuesday night, the city council voted 6-0 to release an investigative report compiled by the city attorney’s office into comments Clayton made to Walker and about fellow Council Member Charity Doyle.

Clayton himself voted to release it. Doyle abstained since she was named in one of the complaints.

Three council members who initially asked to be named as co-defendants with Clayton in the investigation were not present at Tuesday’s meeting. Ron Sasso was in New Jersey planning the funeral for his father. John Roberts was at the National Association of Home Builders trade show in Las Vegas. Steve Laurenti had a work conflict, according to Mayor Sam Kooiker.

The council voted to release an unredacted version of the report without any prior discussion. Clayton’s apology came after the vote.

The investigation was initiated after two complaints were made against Clayton. One complaint was made by Walker and the other was about comments Clayton allegedly directed at Doyle at a luncheon of the Wingnuts, a local political group. Clayton has denied making those comments.

Walker said Clayton asked her, "Should we deport you back to Kenya with Obama?" and "Are you even American; are you American?" while being interviewed by Walker on Aug. 29, 2012. Clayton questioned the precise accuracy of the quote and its context.

Clayton said Tuesday that he does not watch KOTA news, had not met Walker before the incident and didn't know she was black. The incident happened when Walker called Clayton to ask about a contentious tax increase the council was considering at the time.

When Walker asked Clayton how he planned to vote, he responded by asking how she planned to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Walker said she didn't plan to vote since she's a journalist, which led to Clayton’s questions about her patriotism and the assertion that maybe she should be sent to Kenya, the home of President Barack Obama’s father.

Clayton said he believed "birther" positions — which assert the president is from Kenya, not the United States — at the time, but his views have since changed.

"I understand our president is our president and a citizen of the United States," he said.

The five-month-long investigation process has divided city council members since the investigation went public, and an executive session, or closed-door meeting, was held to review the city attorney’s report on the charges.

Clayton took responsibility Tuesday for the firestorm the issue has caused.

"I caused this distraction," he said.

Contact Aaron Orlowski at 484-7069 or

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(37) Comments

  1. NelagT
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    NelagT - January 24, 2013 11:32 am
    Our council is too big, and the requirements to get on aren't that restrictive. It's like running a manufacturing company with day labor as opposed to hiring qualified, permanent employees.
  2. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - January 24, 2013 9:02 am
    Even without a recall, with 2-year terms (he's already served one, right?), he won't serve for long. He should resign - but if he doesn't he still won't be around for long...assuming Ward-1 voters have a clue.
  3. Revelation
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    Revelation - January 24, 2013 7:51 am
    Sasso's father died earlier in the day. You can read the obituary:
  4. dirtyepic7
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    dirtyepic7 - January 23, 2013 9:51 pm
    We, as a city, cannot expose ourselves to hate of this blatant disregard. He has to resign and be made an example of. I hope she sues and sues big. Even the lawyers that aren't ambulance chasers should be all over this. I hope the city council wises up to his sociopathic lies and stops protecting him at our embarrassment.
  5. NelagT
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    NelagT - January 23, 2013 8:03 pm
    There's only one place for Clayton and his lack of sincerity or common sense................congress.
  6. Report Abuse
    - January 23, 2013 7:21 pm
    I suspect,

    That the only reason that a petition to start a recall hasn't been done, is that no one knows how to do it.

    I tried to find it via google, and failed. I suggest you all call the city offices and ask. The number there is 394-9300. I'm sure they would be happy to forward you to someone who knows how to start a recall petition for a city councilman, if that's been done before. In any event, it should liven up the life of the receptionist in any event.

    Good luck!
  7. Wayne Gilbert
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    Wayne Gilbert - January 23, 2013 7:13 pm
    Black Hawk nailed it: HAHAURALLWRONG and William Clayton are two peas in a pod.
  8. Roger Cornelius
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    Roger Cornelius - January 23, 2013 4:48 pm
    As a Native American, the last time a Redneck told me to go back where I came from, I pitched a teepee in his backyard.

    Apology or not, Clayton is in a indefensible position.

    Any attempt to support this poor excuse of a human being is as vile as he is.
  9. Black Hawk
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    Black Hawk - January 23, 2013 4:07 pm
    I've read your post several times and believe that you are the ideal person to represent Mr. Clayton's point of view.
  10. Roland
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    Roland - January 23, 2013 2:39 pm
    Well I can't argue with that.
  11. comeonalready
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    comeonalready - January 23, 2013 1:35 pm
    I'm not sure I agree with you. That type of person tends to be very vocal (birthers).

    And, I think I will pass on going to a wingnuts meeting to "see for myself." No thanks - Napoli and his crew can have their fun by themselves.

    He needs to be replaced.
    Report Abuse
    HAHAURALLWRONG - January 23, 2013 1:18 pm
    Funny how YOU all assume from a fone conversation that you will know someones color!!! Also the reference made was go to kenya with obama so if there was a White person on the fone that means he is racist against white and black cause he wants to send them all to kenya. The asumptions and the junk yall are writeing is AMAZING. Keep it coming its good for a laff.

    Owe yah.. what if he told a native american to go home? does that also mean that he does not like them. or a mexican to take a trip to a vactaion spot in mexico that he has been to because of the beauty? must be racist too.
  13. NelagT
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    NelagT - January 23, 2013 1:15 pm
    Is there any way someone will take Clayton seriously anymore? NO. The fact that he was a "birther" believer has to put his sanity in question. Since he doesn't appear willing to resign, let's get this recall process started.

    He didn't know she was it's OK to tell racist jokes to white reporters?

  14. Wayne Gilbert
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    Wayne Gilbert - January 23, 2013 12:30 pm
    Very good questions blackhillsmarine. 99% of the time when people start talking about "context," it turns out that "context" that they want to add doesn't exuse or even credibly explain the statement. While it is comforting that this group which endorses lame "contextualization" represents a minority, that minority should decrease by at least one more.
  15. westside
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    westside - January 23, 2013 12:24 pm
    You won't find many supporters of Mr. Clayton on the comments section, but you better believe that they're out there. The comments he blurted out are what many around here will disclose only in private with their friends when it's safe because being a racist is unpopular. Chances are good that even if Clayton resigns, he would be replaced with someone of the same mentality. There are plenty of "birthers" in this area. They aren't going anywhere.
  16. coffeehead
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    coffeehead - January 23, 2013 11:44 am
    He needs to be removed. Racism should not be tolerated. And besides, you can't cure stupid.
  17. Wayne Gilbert
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    Wayne Gilbert - January 23, 2013 10:46 am
    Alderman William Clayton only makes racist comments to people he doesn't realize are African Americans, and he's changed his mind about being a birther! Responsible municipal government moves forward!
  18. blackhillsmarine
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    blackhillsmarine - January 23, 2013 10:36 am
    The citizens of Ward 1 need to recall Clayton since he won't resign, no doubt about it. The Mayor said,. when he falsely accused the Compass Committee for being on a witch hunt and acting like a star chamber., "which has devolved into investigating Council members for issues that occurred in the off time." He said several times these events occurred off time. Is the Mayor condoning racism as long as it is off the dais? Can the Mayor explain when the right time is for this behavior?
    Why didn't the Mayor deplore this racism and hurtful behavior when he had the chance instead of making up stories? Why didn't Laurenti and Roberts? Really sad. I also noted that both of Clayton's targets were women,

    I take comfort knowing that these men are in the minority and do not represent the entire council nor the citizens of Rapid City.
  19. comeonalready
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    comeonalready - January 23, 2013 10:14 am
    Sad excuse for a story and an apology.

    Ward 1, get this guy out of there if he won't resign, which it certainly appears he has no intention of doing.
  20. Dan
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    Dan - January 23, 2013 9:40 am
    I don't know where to start.

    First, she asked him how he's going to vote as a duly elected representative of Ward 1. A public vote, no less. He responds by asking her how she will vote as a private citizen on a secret ballot in a national election that has nothing to do with city business. The point?

    Now he claims he didn't know she was black. He doesn't watch KOTA. He was misquoted, sort of. (And according to these comments, he didn't know she was a reporter when she contacted him.)

    I've been interviewed by Walker. She's a hard-working journalist, a professional. She would not misrepresent herself, and she gets it right. And she does not deserve this kind of "apology."

    No question, Clayton must resign.

  21. Mohawker
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    Mohawker - January 23, 2013 9:38 am
    It's probably easy for "birthers" to change their position because they don't seem to have a clue about reality. Chalk it up to ignorance and willingness to believe any conspiracy theory about President Obama. Clayton's apology is nice but his credibility is gone.
  22. Roland
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    Roland - January 23, 2013 9:11 am
    Sasso had a valid excuse. My condolonces to him and his family.

    Roberts the big shot was partying in Vegas. Laurenti....
  23. rcwraith
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    rcwraith - January 23, 2013 8:55 am
    As far as the issue at hand is concerned, yes, he needs to go. As far as all the talk of "birthers" the general concensus that all people who believe Obama has deceived the American people by possibly not being American-born and therefore allowed to be President, is that hey are all called "birthers" and are in some way UN-American? Just clarifying what the thought process is on that term or belief.
  24. Frank Smith
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    Frank Smith - January 23, 2013 8:17 am
    Well, the apology was a good start. Now he needs to resign.

    His constituents have lost confidence. And his very own comments make me question his ability (and especially intelligence) to serve in that position. You apologized. That was the right thing to do. Now do the respectable thing and resign.

  25. Sans Bull
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    Sans Bull - January 23, 2013 8:16 am
    Being racist isn't a "distraction". It is unethical in the public service. An apology isn't the answer. Get rid of him - NOW!
  26. Black Hawk
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    Black Hawk - January 23, 2013 8:09 am
    Just when you think that nothing worse could come out of his mouth. His views on the "birther position" have changed? When did that happen and what caused him to change? The fact that he held that position for the last 4 years makes him uneualified to hold an elected job. It's always the cover up that makes these individuals look incompetent. And you had legal advice? Fire him and yourself!
  27. Sherlock
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    Sherlock - January 23, 2013 8:07 am
    When was the last time we had three council members out at the same time during a council meeting all for different reasons? (I can't think of any.) Think about it RC do you think this was just a coincidence? Look closer at those who aligned themselves with Clayton and tell me they aren't trying to distance themselves. They should be gone as well.
  28. TTGROM
    Report Abuse
    TTGROM - January 23, 2013 8:06 am
    Poor judgement and poor leadership what a shame to our beautiful city. Far as the missing 3 amigos no need to return. We are much better off with out you. Alderman Clayton please do us all a favor and resign.
  29. Sherlock
    Report Abuse
    Sherlock - January 23, 2013 7:49 am
    Way to little to late, and then creating another lie on top of it. He didn't know who Ms. Walker was. Give me a break. And he is going to sit there and say that five months ago he was a "tea party birther" and now he has seen the light. Give me another break. He is lying to himself and he is lying to the public. He needs to go now. Rapid City citizens and the Mayor must demand he step down if we don't we are as bad as he is. Mr. Clayton do the right thing and step down now.
  30. HillBilly
    Report Abuse
    HillBilly - January 23, 2013 7:48 am
    Bigoted comments from a South Dakota council member comes as no surprise since he represents the majority of citizens that are mentally stuck in the 1950s.
  31. dmcrow
    Report Abuse
    dmcrow - January 23, 2013 7:48 am
    Wow....Like I said before... " This has dirtied a Beautiful place and Beautiful People". This whole fiasco just reeks of " Ooops We got caught , Now we have to play nice" . Rapid City you deserve better.
  32. ttpilot
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    ttpilot - January 23, 2013 7:44 am
    If he didn't know she was black, why would he tell her to go back to Kenya?
  33. Jason
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    Jason - January 23, 2013 7:37 am
    "I certainly did not know her skin color. That would not justify any racial remarks," Clayton said.

    So you thought you were making a racist joke about blacks about a person that was white? That doesn't seem very plausible to me.

    "I caused this distraction," he said.

    It is not a distraction when we learn one of our city council members verbally abuses people, makes racist statements to people, and is probably a birther. It is an indication that that person shouldn't be in a leadership position in Rapid City. That person should have a better explanation for such atrocious behavior than this, or resign.
  34. Roland
    Report Abuse
    Roland - January 23, 2013 7:36 am
    Well. That was interesting. Here are my thoughts on Clayton's "apology."

    First non-truth: "I don't have a prepared presentation" - sorry, I don't buy it. I have a pretty strong feeling that this is the exact defense he used in executive session.

    Next observation: If you are going to apologize to someone, then use their name! Seriously? Just calling her "The KOTA reporter?" I'm sorry, using the excuse that he doesn't want to drag her name into it, after all the pub that name has gotten, is just sad.

    Next thought: Clayton talks about "misquotes" and "taken out of context". So the apology is basically this: "I'm sorry - but I really didn't do anything wrong" - like it was a misunderstanding. Sound familiar? Clayton must have taken that apology from the Kooiker playbook.

    OK, now to the defense. She called him and left a message. He called her back thinking she was from a business downtown. Really Mr. Clayton? You expect us to believe that you had a "lengthy" conversation with Ms. Walker and didn't know who she was? To quote one of your fellow wingnuts, "The people of Rapid City aren't stupid."

    Another observation: Clayton made the comment that his attorney, Mr. Duffy, "Has taken a liking to me." Who says that in an apology? I'll tell you who - a narcissist.

    Next observation: Clayton mentions again how there are "no witnesses" to the phone call, and it is just his word against hers. However, when there are witnesses, like the other 3 who filed the complaint, they are lying. Interesting.

    Last comment, I noticed Mr. Clayton never made an apology to Ms. Doyle - not even one of his "misunderstanding" apologies. Very telling indeed. Have fun continuing to work with this guy, Council.

    Take Mr. Clayton's own advice and don't just believe what you hear on the surface. "Dig into it" and understand what this was - a pathetic excuse for an apology and a CYA.
  35. Hopefull
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    Hopefull - January 23, 2013 6:52 am
    He can apologize all he wants but the fact remains that he said's out there....he can't take those words back. He needs to be GONE!
  36. black eyed susan
    Report Abuse
    black eyed susan - January 23, 2013 6:18 am
    A true embarrassment to Rapid City.
  37. Report Abuse
    - January 23, 2013 6:17 am
    In my opinion....

    Far too little and far far too late. I've read the code of conduct rules, and he's violated quite a number of them. So have others, but that's no valid excuse.
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