Feb. 15 – CONCORD – State Representative Nicole Klein-Knight, D-Manchester, apologized to a black activist “from the bottom of my heart” for using the N-word when referring to him after testifying before a House committee last month.
The second-term lawmaker released an email she sent to activist Jonah Wheeler on Tuesday after a bipartisan committee of House members met privately to discuss how to deal with the allegations against she.
“I realized it was wrong of me to use the racist slur you said. I immediately regretted it and agreed that no one should use that language, and I apologize for the bottom of my heart for the pain this has caused,” Klein-Knight said in her email.
House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, stripped Klein-Knight of his seat on the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee at the request of House Democratic Leader Renny Cushing of Hampton.
Klein-Knight said she would be willing to speak with Wheeler about the incident and its aftermath if he wished.
“If you ever want to have a chat with me about this, I’ll be more than happy to do so, please don’t hesitate to contact me,” Klein-Knight wrote to Wheeler.
Since the controversy began, Klein-Knight has refrained from interviews on the advice of attorneys, she said Tuesday.
“I extend the following apologies to you at the conclusion of the investigation by New Hampshire House’s adjudicative body, the Chairman’s Joint Commission,” Klein-Knight wrote to media that asked for comment.
“That was the reason for my silence under counsel until due process was established.”
Packard followed previous speakers in appointing a bipartisan panel of six House members to review an allegation of misconduct by a House member.
The panel’s unanimous report to Packard urged Klein-Knight to apologize for the incident, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
A dozen black, indigenous and colored community leaders had condemned Klein-Knight for his conduct.
“Although he did not directly use this hateful word against this young man, Representative Klein-Knight crossed a line by aggressively using a word with such a horrific history to intimidate a black voter,” they wrote. written in a letter.
“It only got worse when she defended her use of the word, despite her repeated pleas for her to stop, and called that same voter’s security. Not only did she verbally abuse him, but the representative put this young man’s safety at risk in a situation she initiated, continued and escalated.”
Cushing and Deputy House Democratic Leader David Cote of Nashua followed with their unusual call for Packard to step down from his committee assignment.
“We are both shocked and deeply disappointed that a lawmaker is using this kind of inexcusably racist language,” the pair wrote in a statement.
At the time, Klein-Knight defended his actions on social media.
“Today a national hate group came forward to testify. My president was fair, diplomatic and democratic. For these reasons, I fear he will be removed from office. Strange times. I have been tracked and registered by a progressive group yesterday for being a racist while about 100 white supremacists showed up for a succession bill (sic),” Klein-Knight posted on his Twitter account on January 21.
“While my track record and my bills speak for themselves. Cancel culture is real and democracy is dying. I love you all and I’m doing my best.”
A day later, Klein-Knight appeared to reference the dispute in another tweet.
“An ‘inclusive and progressive’ organization told me I’m not really a minority because I can hide behind the color of my skin,” she posted.
“Remind me how to hide from a gunman the next time he enters a temple because I’m white-skinned. That’s exactly what anti-Semitism is.”
A few House Democrats have suggested in emails that Klein-Knight was being targeted for her Jewish faith.
No Jewish state organization came to his defense.