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Pair of lawmakers at odds over display of confederate flag on laptop

Rep. Geraldine Peten, D-Goodyear (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

Rep. Geraldine Peten, D-Goodyear (Photo by Katie Campbell/Arizona Capitol Times)

After saying he would not remove the Confederate flag image displayed on his laptop in the Arizona House, Rep. Todd Clodfelter, R-Tucson, said he’ll leave the computer at home instead.

The Tucson Republican’s 180-degree turn came one day after Rep. Geraldine Peten, D-Goodyear, expressed concerns that she could clearly see the flag from her desk, located one row behind Clodfelter’s seat, during a mandatory harassment and ethics training session at the House of Representatives Jan. 9.

“To me it’s intimidating,” she told her colleagues. “It creates a hostile work environment.”

Peten, one of only two African American legislators in Arizona, initially didn’t identify on whose desk she saw the flag, but later told the Arizona Capitol Times it was Clodfelter’s.

Clodfelter initially said the flag — displayed on his personal laptop, he noted, not his state-issued computer — wasn’t going away, and the two lawmakers would have to “agree to disagree.”

Rep. Todd Clodfelter (R-Tucson)

Rep. Todd Clodfelter (R-Tucson)

“We need to talk more, and we’ve already had a brief discussion and I understand her position, but I also have my position, too,” Clodfelter said Jan. 9. “All my family and ancestry is from the South. And my perspective of the imagery of that particular flag is not the same as hers. So from my perspective, it’s acceptable. From hers, it’s offensive.”

Peten told the Capitol Times that after confronting Clodfelter Jan. 10 and asking him to take down the image, he ensured her she wouldn’t see it again.

The image, Peten said, was “in direct contrast to the training yesterday.”

“If we’re to honor the training we received … that flag has no place here, or anywhere for that matter, but specifically not in the public space,” she said.

Clodfelter clarified that he was only using his personal laptop to finish some “personal business,” but would no longer bring that laptop to the floor and would instead use his state-issued computer. He stood by his argument that the image has different meanings for each of them.

“We obviously have some different opinions but after our conversation today we can work together to learn more about each other … rather than being at odds over an image that she perceives one way and I perceive another,” he said.

Arizona has grappled with Confederate symbols in recent months. Activists have called on Gov. Doug Ducey to take action to remove Confederate monuments from state property following a deadly white nationalist rally in Virginia. Some monuments were also vandalized at the time.

Ducey has resisted, and said he has no interest in removing Confederate monuments from Arizona property.


  1. Heck of a show you’re running over there Republicans. The Majority leader botches day one with flag talk, an admission of harassment and a teaching moment for the predators that goes sideways.

  2. Good for him,don’t back down. You have the right to it,she can not look if it bothers her.

  3. The problem with displaying a Confederate flag is not the problem of Representative Clodfelter. Just because Representative Peten finds it “offensive” does not give her the right to demand that it be removed. If something needs to removed, it’s Representative Peten that needs removing! The anti-American attacks on our heritage and historical symbols needs to stop!

  4. A state representative displaying a flag that belonged to traitors to the United States is inappropriate.

  5. Images and messages widely understood as intimidation have no place in any workplace, especially in the workplace of We the People. The fact that it was displayed on a ‘personal’ device is irrelevant. My T-Shirt I wear is my personal property, but if it includes a statement threatening lawmakers with violence, I should not expect to wear it in a room full of lawmakers. Even if my family heritage includes threatening lawmakers.

  6. I agree with Kevin Sharp. Everyone seated in front of Clodfelter please display rainbow flag, black power/BLM graphic, Soviet flag, portrait of Che Guevara, or gang signs on their computer screens till Clodfelter is voted out of office. Or get this man in line with appropriate workplace behavior.

  7. I think she needs to be removed or she needs to get the over it

  8. Secession was constitutional. The only thing “treasonous” about the war of 1861 was the Lincoln government and all those people and States that waged war against the Sovereign States of the South. Read Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution and learn just what TREASON was — and it wasn’t disobeying the central government.

  9. So Ms Peten – What did the flag actually do to you? Malcom X offends some people. Martin Luther King “offends” some people. The Red White and Blue of the Union protected slavery until late 1865 – why are not “offended” by that. Let me guess, you’ll get to the Washington (Slave Owner) Monument in due time.

    What’s worse than this epidemic of thin-skinned people who demand safe spaces for every little thing that “offends” them?

    Caving to them…

  10. Mr. Clodfelter apparently learned nothing from the class they were attending. If he cannot appreciate the Confederate flag as overt intimidation in the context of this meeting, he does not understand his own history.

  11. It’s not humane or proper to display a battle flag of armies that killed hundreds of thousands of Patriotic American soldiers. To honor the armies of a temporary government that tried to destroy the USA is pathetic and ill minded.

  12. “All my family and ancestry is from the South. And my perspective of the imagery of that particular flag is not the same as hers. So from my perspective, it’s acceptable. From hers, it’s offensive.”

    So I’m sure that means he has no issue with people descended from Mexican immigrants displaying the Mexican flag as all their family and ancestry is from Mexico?

  13. The South weren’t trying to conquer the US just separate from it hence the term “secession” is used. The idea the South were “traitors trying to overthrow the US govt” is laughable at best. The South wanted to “conquer” the US government as much as George Washington wanted to “conquer” London and the King: again laughable at best and completely false. Jan actually many with Southern Heritage would have no problem with those of Mexican heritage showing pride in their flag and culture. I just wish we were allowed to do the same instead of bullied into hiding as though it were a bad thing. The flag and culture of which we hold dear is the flag my grandfather’s served under NOT the flag of Jim Crowe. A flag is only as “violent” and “threatening” as those who bear it. A flag like a gun or hammer or even internet is a tool. It can be used for good or evil. The flag in question is as “threatening” as a bunny.

  14. I don’t believe for a minute that people are traumatized by the sight of a Confederate flag. I think it’s MADE. UP. It is attention-seeking for some. It is throwring their weight around for others. The “deadly white nationalist rally” last summer is irrelevant to the displays of Confederate artifacts by those who see past the Victor Fable indoctrination about the Civil War and thus respect their Confederate ancestors

  15. Mr. Clodfelter can put whatever screen-saver he wants on his PERSONAL laptop. If he wants a screen-saver of explicit Stormy Daniels images, KKK cross burnings, gay erotica, or confederate imagery he is more than welcome to engage in his personal preferences in the privacy of his own home.

    Mr. Clodfelter claims that he isn’t racist nor is the Confederate flag. While I may have my doubts, my problem with his behavior is:

    1) By bringing in his personal laptop to finish some “personal business” into the work environment he is failing to attend to the requirements of his job. He was there to attend training – not to blow it off and work on personal issues.

    2) By sharing imagery, widely known as being offensive to some, in the workplace he has contributed to a hostile work environment.

    Regardless of what Mr. Clodfelter believes about the Confederacy and about racism, bringing a personal computer that displays problematic imagery to conduct personal business while at a employer mandated harassment and ethics seminar shows extraordinarily poor judgment.

  16. Confederates were not traitors, as were the founding generation. The difference is the type of government each sought to separate from.

    The colonial patriots knew they were commiting treason and deserved death, but their passion for independence was such that they were willing to take the risk. The crown legitimately owned the colonies; it was well within its right to send an army to put down an illegal rebellion; we celebrate its failure every.

    The federal government did not own the states. The South voluntarily joined a compact styled in the Constitution, and they voluntarily unjoined. The union was in the wrong to send an army to kill Southerners simply for unjoining. The feds knew it, too…

    “If you bring these leaders to trial, it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution, secession is not rebellion. His (Jefferson Davis’s) capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one. We cannot convict him of treason.” –Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase to Edwin Stanton (The Long Surrender, Burke Davis)

    “Davis will be found not guilty and we shall stand there completely beaten.”–Judge Franz Lieber, to the U.S. War Department after studying 270,000 Confederate documents seeking evidence against Jefferson Davis. (The Long Surrender, Burke Davis)

    Confederate treason is one of the Victor Fables that has found its way into education and the popular culture for generations, but it simply isn’t true.

  17. Kevin Sharp, the Confederate flag is not widely understood as intimidation. Since the 1970, legitimate poll after legitimate poll has found support for the Confederate flag as a symbol NOT of intimidation but of regional pride — anywhere from 60% to 70% of respondants have a positive view of the flag.

    Even in 2015, not long after the Charleston tragedy, a CNN poll found that 57% of respondants viewed the Confederate battleflag as a symbol of Southern pride, not racism or intimidation.

    Perhaps you need to adjust your view of it to be more realistic.

  18. Jan Jones, I don’t have a problem with people of Mexican heritage displaying the Mexican flag, as long as it is not seen as superior to, or a replacement for, the U.S. flag.

  19. The same CNN poll you referred to should inform you that 75% of Southern African-Americans viewed it as a symbol of racism. People who haven’t experienced discrimination in connection with that flag probably don’t “get” the symbolism.

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