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Gus Savage

Democrat, Illinois (1981-1992)

The Honorable Gus Savage, on the day he was defeated in a primary election for Congress, blamed the "white racist press and the racist, reactionary Jewish misleaders" for his loss, comparing himself to the slain Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.  He was defeated by a young, bright African-American reformer and future BadBoy, Mel Reynolds

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on the eve of the primary election, wrote:  "Although there is lively debate regarding who is the best congressman [in Illinois], there is broad, bipartisan, multiracial consensus that the worst is Gus Savage."  "What a luxury," the editorial continued, "to have someone of Reynolds' caliber at hand when replacing Savage with even a stalk of celery would elevate the intellectual and moral tone of Congress." (editorial, March 8, 1992)

Gus wouldn't talk to the press, saying that most of the press is "racist" and includes too many Jews.  He called "historically, culturally and politically accurate" Louis Farrakhan's statement that "Hitler was a great man" and that Judaism is a "gutter religion."  He's been know to respond to reporters questions by calling them "faggots" and asking "Are you still messing with little boys?"  [For other pearls of wisdom, check the Quote Board].

Savage got in trouble (not the first, nor the last time) because of what happened on a trip to Africa.  The House Ethics Committee concluded that he made improper "sexual advances" to a young female Peace Corps volunteer during a trip to Zaire in 1989.  Savage sent a letter of apology:  "While in Zaire earlier this year," it said in part, "if you felt personally offended by any words or actions of mine, I apologize, because I never intended to offend and was not aware that you felt offended at the time."

So what went on?  The Peace Corps volunteer, a 28-year-old female, was invited to have dinner at the U.S. ambassador's residence, with Savage and others in attendance.  She was to brief Savage, a few days later, on the work of the Peace Corps in Africa.  After the dinner, she agreed to accompany Savage and several others on a tour of Kinshasha's night life.  Savage insisted that he and the woman ride alone in the chauffeured limousine.  According to the woman, Savage, "aggressively and repeatedly fondled her in the back seat of the embassy car despite her strong spoken protests and physical resistance."  "As soon as the . . . cars pulled off from the ambassador's residence, he grabbed me," she said.  "He tried to force me to have sex with him." Finally, an information officer from the U.S. embassy escorted her from Savage's car and took her home.  The woman had to be medically evacuated back to the U.S. and underwent six weeks of intensive therapy given to victims of sexual assault.  The U.S. ambassador later chewed out Savage for his improper conduct.

The Peace Corps volunteer, who has not been identified, was called "a traitor to the black movement" by Savage.

Gus Savage is a member of the Congressional Sexual Harassment Caucus.

When confronted by the press, Savage said, "why don't you ask me about economic development projects? . . . Ask me something constructive.  I'm not interested in all that . . . I could care less what . . . it is.  I don't want to talk about that . . . Ask me the same kind of questions you ask white congressmen.  You don't ask white congressmen questions like that. . . "

Sources:  Carole Ashkinzae, "Voters, Not "Outsiders," Handed Savage His Loss," Chicago Sun-Times, March 22, 1992;  Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 8, 1992;  Helen Dewar, "Ethics Panel Reportedly Faults Rep. Savage," Washington Post, February 2, 1990;  Jim McGee, "Peace Corps Worker Alleges Rep. Savage Assaulted Her," Washington Post, July 19, 1989.