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Kenyatta says Ring video recording amounts to ‘dirty political tricks’


Kenyatta says Ring video recording amounts to ‘dirty political tricks’

Feb 26, 2024 | 7:04 pm ET
By Peter Hall
Kenyatta says Ring video recording amounts to ‘dirty political tricks’
State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Thursday, March 9, 2023 (Capital-Star photo).

Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) responded Monday to criticism over a video in which he was recorded telling a voter that his Democratic primary opponent in the race for state auditor general, Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley, doesn’t “like black people.”

The video, recorded by a Ring doorbell camera inside the home of a constituent, was posted on the Facebook page of Jon Hankins, one of three Democrats challenging Kenyatta for his 181st Legislative District seat. Kenyatta is seeking reelection to the seat as he runs for auditor general. The woman with whom Kenyatta is speaking in the video is Hankins’ mother-in-law. Kenyatta said he did not give her permission to record him.

“I’m running for auditor general to make our government work for all families. I won’t be distracted by dirty political tricks,” Kenyatta told the Capital-Star in a statement, adding that he looks forward to having Pinsley’s endorsement in the general election.

Pinsley called the remarks divisive and said he drew attention to the video after several people sent him links to the Facebook post because he felt he needed to challenge Kenyatta’s assertion.

“When someone says something like that about you, you can’t let it go without saying something in response,” Pinsley told the Capital-Star on Monday.

In the video, which is excerpted from a longer recording, Kenyatta is seated in the woman’s living room. He says, “And so, for auditor general, at least in the primary, I don’t think we have an opponent.”

“There’s the guy Mark Pinsley, who I told you don’t like black people,” Kenyatta said. “He’s still running. So we’ll see if he can get on the ballot. I have no idea.”

Pinsley’s nominating petitions have been called into question over allegedly forged signatures including that of a sitting Chester County judge. Chester County District Attorney Chris de Barrena-Sarobe told the Daily Local newspaper that county detectives are conducting a criminal investigation.

No objection to Pinsely’s petition was filed, according to state records. 

Pinsley also faced criticism in 2022 for remarks before the Legislative Redistricting Commission in which he used the word “ghetto” to describe concerns about consolidating the heavily Hispanic populations of Allentown and Bethlhem into a single district.  

Pinsley said his use of the word was “in defense of minorities” and from his perspective as a Jewish person. He noted that the remarks were also made in public. 

“It wasn’t private, behind-the-scenes locker room talk. This was done behind the scenes to try to talk people out of supporting me,” he said Monday.

Kenyatta is serving his fourth term as a state representative and ran against John Fetterman for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in 2022. Pinsley ran for state Senate as a Democrat in 2022 and lost to state Sen. Jarrett Coleman (R-Lehigh).

(This article was updated at 8:49 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, to include additional comment from Kenyatta.)