9:51pm PT by Katie Kilkenny, Jackie Strause
Georgia Lawmaker Who Used Racial Slurs on Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Who Is America?' to Resign
Rep. Jason Spencer, the Georgia Republican lawmaker who exposed himself and yelled racial slurs in a recent episode of Showtime's Who Is America?, has announced his intention to resign from office.
Spencer wrote to House Speaker David Ralston to tell him he was resigning from the Georgia House of Representatives effective July 31. After losing a recent primary election, Spencer has only five months left in his terms on the House, but he had previously vowed to serve them out.
The entirety of the email, sent to The Hollywood Reporter, is below:
This email/letter is to serve as an official resignation notice to your office that I will be resigning my post effective July 31, 2018.
Rep. Jason Spencer
CNN was first to report the news late on Tuesday; Spencer sent the email at 11:18 p.m. ET.
Spencer's resignation marks the first major off-air consequence from Sacha Baron Cohen's provocative and politically charged satire series. Ahead of its debut, critics had questioned whether or not some of the comedian's gags would end political careers. The premiere episode, which aired on July 15, has already more than doubled its initial audience.
Spencer appeared during the second episode, which aired July 22, and his actions made instant headlines. During Spencer's segment, Cohen posed as an Israeli anti-terrorism advocate named Col. Erran Morad — the character he used to dupe Dick Cheney in the same episode, along with a group of current and former Republican lawmakers in the premiere — and purported to train Spencer during a self-defense class.
Spencer was shown yelling racial slurs — he mocked Chinese people and screamed the N-word repeatedly — as well as exposing his behind to purportedly intimidate terrorists. "I'll make you a homosexual!" he yelled while exposing himself. During a post-credits sequence Cohen also delivered "A Message to Terrorists" in which he used racial slurs, pretended to cut off terrorists' genitalia and endorsed a fictitious anti-terrorism training video. (Watch the segment below.)
Spencer initially vowed to take legal action against the Who Is America? filmmakers if they showed the video. After the Showtime episode aired, however, Spencer issued a statement where the representative said he "deeply" regretted his actions and called the segment a "ridiculously ugly episode." At that time, he said he still planned to serve out the remainder of his term.
Following the airing of the video, lawmakers including Ralston and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who said he was "saddened and disgusted" by the episode, denounced Spencer's actions. The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Georgia, meanwhile, asked him to resign.
On Wednesday, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, with the Georgia House Democratic Caucus and the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus had planned to hold a joint press conference at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta to condemn the racial slurs and other offensive language used by Spencer on Who Is America? The conference was canceled after Spencer's resignation letter.
Spencer is just one of several political targets on Cohen's show, where the actor and comedian dresses up in various guises and dupes targets. So far in the season, Bernie Sanders, Joe Wilson, Joe Walsh, Trent Lott, Dana Rohrabacher and Matt Gaetz have all been targeted.
July 25, 6:45 a.m. Updated with Spencer's resignation email.