Republican lawmaker Larry Pittman apologized Wednesday to House Speaker Thom Tillis for questioning his conservative credentials in a recent tea party forum.
"While we do still have some disagreement about process, I have done damage to his reputation in a manner in which I did not consider at the time," Pittman said in a letter released to the media from his legislative office. "I regret that this has damaged our friendship, and I ask for his forgiveness, not for the disagreement, but for the manner in which I handled it." (Click PDF link to read full letter below.)
In his remarks at the forum, Pittman suggested Tillis' potential bid for the U.S. Senate was interfering with legislation. He said conservative bills were being deemed too controversial and not getting approved.
"It was my intention to let the folks know that it is not that I have not tried to move the gun rights legislation they were expecting from me, but that the bills were not being given a hearing," Pittman wrote in the letter.
He also retracted his statements that the speaker's office threatened a lawmaker to retract a resolution suggesting North Carolina could designate its own religion. He said he made assumptions.
Pittman acknowledged in the speech -- a video of which was posted online -- that his comments would get him "in trouble." But in his letter, he said "thinking out loud in such a setting is not the best thing to do, it seems. At the time, I did not consider that my comments would be given the widespread exposure that did occur."
Asked about Pittman's remarks Tuesday, Tillis told reporters he woudln't comment.