Pritzker staffer who quit over racial comments speaks out

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A Chicago woman who quit J.B. Pritzer's campaign over racially insensitive comments he made is speaking out. (WLS)

A Chicago woman who quit J.B. Pritzer's campaign over racially insensitive comments he made is speaking out. Pritzker's comments were caught on FBI recordings and are making race a significant issue in the Democratic primary.

One week ago, Pritzker came under fire for disparaging comments about Secretary of State Jesse White and former Senate President Emil Jones. The next day, one of Pritzker's campaign workers resigned in protest. Now, she's talking about that decision and why she had to make it.

"I was extremely disappointed and hurt definitely by the tapes," Kina Collins told ABC7.

The 26-year-old Austin resident joined Pritzker's campaign last November as an West Side organizer. But when she heard the tapes from 2009 where Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich were talking about possible candidates to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat and Pritzker called Jesse White the "least offensive" black candidate and Emil Jones too "crass," Collins quit the Pritzker campaign.

"It was the thought of having to come back to my community and defend those comments which I couldn't reconcile with, and so because of that I had to draw a line in the sand and leave the campaign," Collins said.

Pritzker has since apologized to White and Jones for those comments and has had several meetings with African American pastors and other leaders trying to mend fences. Pritzker also reached out to Collins.

"He did call me and apologize to be transparent, in full disclosure, the apology did seem sincere, he did tell me he would try his best to earn my respect back in the respect of others as well," she said.

Collins has since joined the campaign of Sameena Mustafa, who is challenging Mike Quigley in the 5th Congressional District. Collins says her decision to leave Pritzker's campaign was a statement about the importance of integrity.

"We need candidates and we need people who will not just make public statements but will defend against racism and sexism behind closed doors," Collins said.

Collins said she has not made up her mind about who among the Democrats running for governor that she will support.

The Pritzker campaign did not immediately returned ABC7's requests for comment.

Previously, a spokeswoman said they respected Collins' feelings and were sad to see her go from the campaign.
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