The Montana state lawmaker who said the Constitution allows socialists to be shot won't resign, despite much outcry over his remarks and an official request from party leadership that he step down. State representative Rodney Garcia of Billings tells the AP the "only way I would give my resignation is if God asked me to." While God himself apparently has not yet asked Garcia to leave his position, Montana Republican party leaders wrote him a letter Monday requesting his immediate resignation over the "inflammatory and deeply disturbing comments" he made Friday at a GOP winter gathering, Yellowstone Public Radio reports. Garcia was standing by those comments Monday, telling the AP that socialists "have to be tried, and if they're found guilty," they can be jailed or shot. He could not cite the portion of the Constitution that he says supports those claims.
"His actions do not represent the Republican party or the people of Montana," says Montana Speaker of the House Greg Hertz, adding that the day after Garcia made the comments (he said socialists were "everywhere" in Billings and that he was concerned about them entering the government), party leaders met with him. "And [we] asked him to disavow and retract those comments, but he refused to," Hertz says. But if Garcia won't step down, Hertz says he does not have the authority to force him out. "About the only option that's available is for voters in his district to start a recall petition." Garcia, who says he's running for the state Senate rather than returning to the state House next year, told the AP he's gotten much praise for his remarks but also a few threats: "They can't come up to me and talk to me, but they want to shoot me. That's fine, but if you miss, I won't." (Read more Montana stories.)