Blunt supported Chief of Staff Ed Martin after his comments on the Hispanic community.
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Blunt supported Chief of Staff Ed Martin after his comments on the Hispanic community.

Date: September 12, 2007
By: Bria Scudder
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's governor reaffirmed support for his Chief of Staff Ed Martin, Wednesday, regarding accusations Martin made offensive comments about the Hispanic community.

Martin is accused of making the comments during a Aug. 17 Missouri Housing Development meeting.

Martin commented on the claims that developer Pete Hennessey's company hired illegal immigrants for a housing project. Hennessey's attorney said that a way to verify the legal status of his workers electronically was not available at the time.

"I'll tell you what's available is every frigging developer can figure out who is legal, and when he says there's a bunch of Mexicans out there, I guess some of them are probably not legal," Martin said, according to a meeting transcript. 

"He is doing a wonderful job leading the staff and working with the members of the cabinet. I expect results and he's delivering results in a number of areas," Gov. Matt Blunt said during a press conference Wednesday.

Not everyone agrees with the governor's statement.

Rita Valentino,president of the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, said the governor should apologize and Martin should be fired.

Rep. Timothy Flook, R-Liberty, who is of Hispanic heritage, said Martin's comments don't seem racist to him.

"I classify them as indelicate but I did not read them as a straight out racist comment," Flook said.

Flook said he doesn't think Martin should be fired.

"I agree with their passion and their beliefs, but I can't say I agree it's a call for resignation or apologies," Flook said.

 Flook is a second generation Mexican American.

Jim Torres, legislative liaison and secretary of the Commission, resigned after Martin's comments. Torres wrote a letter to Blunt that stated that he was offended by Martin's remarks.

According to the the Associated Press, Torres "Declined to say whether he resigned as a result of Martin's remark" His resignation is effective  Sept. 20.

So far, Blunt has not indicated he will ask Martin to resign.