Rep. Daniel responds to Cassius Clay Twitter flap (not by tweet)

State Rep. Martin Daniel says some of his recent Twitter commentary on the death of Muhammad Ali – the legislator referred to the famous boxer by his birth name, Cassius Clay — was posted by a staffer who has since been reprimanded.

Daniel also told the News Sentinel Monday night — after a forum appearance with three reelection opponents — that he has closed his Twitter account because it had become “too active.”

“I received death threats and derogative comments. There were threats made against my family,” he told the News Sentinel, after the West Knox Republican Club meeting,

In an earlier telephone discussion Monday, the Knoxville Republican also complained at some length that a “hit job” report on his Twitter commentary had been published (previous post HERE) without him having a chance to discuss the matter further. (Daniel says he returned a call from yours truly seeking elaboration and further comment — and he has repeatedly responded to other inquiries on other matters in the past. It was not received. He did not respond to email inquiries sent at the same time.)

Daniel, now campaigning for reelection against three opponents in the August Republican primary, said he views the Twitter remarks as “only personal comment” and not related to his role as a state legislator.

“I could care less about Cassius Clay – or Muhammad Ali – or any other athletes or celebrities” in relation to his work as a legislator, Daniel said. “It was not part of my official duties.”

In his initial tweet on Saturday, June 4, Daniel wrote: “Cassius Clay was a skilled, great boxer, but failure to enlist in the US military when the call was made is (a) black cloud on his character.” The legislator said he had posted that thought as a personal opinion, but not some of the subsequent posts, which were made by the reprimanded “staffer,” not identified.

Daniel appeared in a Monday evening forum with his three challengers on the August GOP primary ballot.

The earlier report had inspired a letter from Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, published by the Commercial Appeal (HERE). It begins::

In reference to the offensive tweets about Muhammad Ali issued by state Rep. Martin Daniel, it has recently become evident that I work with some of the most hypocritical, grandstanding, headline-grabbing politicians in the nation.

Further from the News Sentinel::
When asked by the News Sentinel to comment on Daniel’s tweets, two of (Daniel’s opponents) said they wouldn’t have made such comments.

Former state Rep. Steve Hall, defeated by Daniel two years ago after serving two terms, said Ali was an honorable person and he didn’t think criticism the day after he died was appropriate.

“Just because of his religious beliefs (Muslim), I don’t believe all Muslims are enemies,” Hall said.

Lawyer James Corcoran said when a state representative is speaking as an official, “he is speaking for as many individuals as you can.” Ali’s death was not a time to be critical, he said.

The third candidate, Bryan Dodson, was unavailable after the meeting. He had made a point during the meeting to say he followed the 11th commandment of the late President Ronald Reagan — not to criticize fellow Republicans during a campaign.

Note: This expands, updates and replaces an earlier post.