Drip, Drip, Drip…

Posted: September 29, 2006 in 2006 Elections

One of Salon.com’s two anonymous sources in its original story on George Allen using racist slurs has decided to go on the record. Even more problematic for Senator Allen, the source remembers hearing about the deer head in a mailbox incident during the hunting trip.

A former football teammate of Sen. George Allen decided Friday to go on the record with recollections of the Virginia Republican’s alleged racist behavior during college.

Edward J. Sabornie, a special education professor at North Carolina State University, had previously spoken to Salon about Allen’s behavior on the condition of anonymity, because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign. In a Salon story on Sunday, Sabornie was quoted as a “teammate” who remembered Allen using the word “nigger” to describe blacks. “It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used,” Sabornie said in that article.

Sabornie said he has now decided to let his name be known because he was upset by how Allen responded this week to the Salon story. “What George said on Monday really kind of inflamed me — that it was ‘ludicrously false’ that he ever used the N-word,” Sabornie told Salon. “I don’t know how George can look himself in the mirror after saying that.”

Since Sunday, four other named acquaintances of Allen have told news organizations that they witnessed Allen using a racial epithet or demonstrating racist behavior. Allen, and his campaign staff, have denied each of the claims.

Sabornie, a registered independent who considers himself a liberal Democrat, was first contacted by Salon on Sept. 17. In the past, Sabornie said he has shown support for Allen, even writing him a congratulatory letter in 2000 after Allen was elected to the Senate.

But Sabornie said his opinion of Allen dimmed after the senator called an Indian-American student “macaca” at a recent campaign rally. “That was the catalyst,” Sabornie said. “I saw the old George.”

Sabornie was in Allen’s class and played football with the senator at the University of Virginia between 1971 and 1973. “We were friends,” said Sabornie, who played outside linebacker and tight end on the team. He said he remembers Allen also referring to blacks as “roaches,” and using the word “wetback” to refer to Latinos.

Sabornie said he also recalled hearing in college about a hunting trip with Allen that was rumored to have ended with a deer head being placed in a mailbox, a claim that was first made public by teammate Ken Shelton, and confirmed in part by teammate George Beam. Until Tuesday, after the Salon article came out, Sabornie said he had not spoken to Shelton for about 30 years.

“Because I was a hunter, and my teammates knew I hunted, I heard the story,” said Sabornie, who could not recall who told him. “I just remember that they cut off the doe head and stuffed it in a mailbox. I don’t remember anyone saying that George went looking specifically for black families.”

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