MACON, Ga. -- Sen. Robert Brown held a Macon City Hall news conference to release a written statement, then headed for the door without answering questions.
Brown read the response to State Rep. Allen Peake's request that he apologize for remarks that seemed to compare Georgia Republicans to the Ku Klux Klan.
In his page-and-a-half statement, headed "Robert Brown's Modest Response," the Senate minority leader did not apologize. But:
- He criticized Peake for not asking him to explain the remark before reacting publicly;
- He cited alleged sex scandals involving Georgia Republicans as the inspiration for his "white sheets" remark. "I was thinking of the many sexual trysts many Republicans have been found guilty of or alleged to have participated in. He said Republicans display an image of "Christian purity until they reach the white sheets in their meetings at hotels..."
- He called Peake "divisive" for advocating that north Macon become a separate city;
- He asked Peake to ask Governor-elect Nathan Deal to ensure a "fair redistricting process," despite Deal's opposition to extending the federal Voting Rights Act.
- And he said Deal should clarify his remark about "ghetto grand mamas" in discussing Georgia voter ID law.
Last year, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Deal talked about opposition to the law from "ghetto grandmothers" who lacked birth certificates.
But Deal later said he regretted his choice of words.
In his statement Thursday, Brown invited people to view his comments, made during a taping of 13WMAZ's Close-Up, which will air Saturday and Sunday.
Brown said, "Most reasonable observers will see that I made no direct or indirect mention of the KKK."
He said Peake has twice declined his offer to meet face-to-face so he could explain his comments.
The state senator appeared nearly a half-hour late for the news conference, scheduled for noon. It lasted about five minutes.
As Brown and an aide rushed from the Macon City Hall chambers, 13WMAZ's Bofta Yimam says a man who was at the news conference pinned Macon Telegraph photographer Woody Marshall against a wall and then knocked him down. See video.
Rep. Allen Peake says he read Brown's statement and isn't buying the senator's explanation of the "white bedsheets" and "midnight meetings" comment.
"It's clear what he made in his statement," Peake says. "To say it's an association to Republicans sleeping with lobbyists, it's such a stretch, it's hard to even imagine."
Though Brown will not comment, many in Macon expect him to challenge Robert Reichert for the mayor's seat.
Reichert says he's not sure how the dispute would affect Brown's bid, but says the situation has escalated too far.
"I hope that both of them will find a way make this quiet down," Reichert says.
"Especially since they've got so much work to do starting next week."
Peake says Brown has not contacted him directly about the matter. He is still asking for an apology.