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House Dems Accuse Suburban Republican Of Making Racist, Homophobic Remarks

State Rep. Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) and Democratic challenger Ken Mejia-Beal

Illinois House Democrats on Monday accused State Rep. Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) of making racist and homophobic statements during a phone call with a purported GOP donor.

The phone call, which was recorded, included instances of Grant mentioning her opponent Ken Mejia-Beal's race and sexuality. Mejia Beal, of Lisle, is Black and openly gay. 

House Democrats played short clips of the phone call for reporters during a virtual press conference Monday, including Grant referring to Mejia-Beal's would-be status as a member of the Black Caucus if he were to be elected to the legislature. 

“I mean, he’s just another one of the Cook County people," Grant is heard saying during the phone call. "That’s all you’re gonna vote for is Cook County, another, ya know, Black Caucus — that’s all we need is another person in the Black Caucus.”

The news was teased Sunday evening, and Grant said she called Mejia-Beal Monday morning. In a statement, Grant said she "deeply regret[s]" what she said. 

"These comments do not reflect my heart or faith," Grant said.

But Mejia-Beal characterized Grant's apology as inadequate. 

"Representative Grant makes it clear that she sees only the color of my skin and my sexual orientation -- and that in her mind disqualifies me as a leader and even disqualifies me as a member of our community."

"Nowhere in Representative Grant's one-line public response or the phone message she left me reading that same message is any acknowledgement that the statements she made so matter-of-factly on those recordings were also a grievous insult to every member of our community," Mejia-Beal said in a statement. 

House Republicans did not defend Grant's comments Monday, but did ask for the full audio of the call to be released, which State Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside) declined to do.

Instead, Welch characterized the full recordings as even more damaging for Grant, and said they contained identifying information.

"Anyone that has heard the sitting representative say the things she said to raise money to be reelected should be disgusted by her fundraising pitch," Welch said. "That is inappropriate, it's hateful and it is divisive."

Hannah covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at outlets including WILL-AM/FM, Law360, The Daily Line and a temporary stint at political blog Capitol Fax before returning to the station in 2020.
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