House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, apologized on Thursday for remarks he made regarding southeast Missouri flooding.
There’s been a raging debate over whether to blow up a levee in southeast Missouri in response to heavy rains in the area. Such action could flood Missouri farmland, while failure to do so could flood places such as Cairo, Illinois.
Two days ago, I filmed and posted to the Web these remarks from Tilley. Tilley was asked by a reporter he would rather see Missouri farmland or Cairo flooded. Tilley immediately said, “Cairo.”
"I’ve been there, Cairo," Tilley said. "Have you been to Cairo? Then you know what I’m saying then."
Those comments were picked up by a number of popular Internet sites, including Illinois-based Capitol Fax and the Huffington Post. As of 10:03 p.m., it’s been viewed over 3,500 and sparked over 118 comments. The statement even prompted Illinois lawmakers - including U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville - to condemn Tilley.
Tilley told me earlier this afternoon that he’d received roughly 20 to 30 e-mails about the remarks. A police officer was stationed near his office.
He said he was sorry for making the comments.
“I want to apologize for them,” he added. “And I think politicians who say something stupid or say something incorrect should admit that they said something dumb… I certainly wish no ill will to Cairo. I will continue to fight for the people of southeast Missouri and the residents there. But it shouldn’t have lead to any inappropriate comments from me about Cairo and for that I regret it.”