Utah Lawmaker Blames Baltimore Bridge Collapse On Diversity


Rick Bowmer / AP file

State Representative Phil Lyman of Utah, a Republican candidate for governor, sparked controversy when he made inflammatory remarks linking diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts to a tragic accident involving a container ship and the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore in which six people are presumed dead.

“This is what happens when you have governors who prioritize diversity over the well-being and security of citizens,” Lyman said in a post on X.

His post included a retweet from the Young Conservative Federation: “Let’s meet the Commissioners for the Port of Baltimore, starting with Karenthia A. Barber. She knows nothing about Ports but is a ‘diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) auditor and consultant.”

A photo and bio of Barber, a Black woman, was included in the post.   

Subsequently, Lyman posted the phrase: “DEI=DIE.” implying a negative association between diversity initiatives and the accident.

Barber, one of six commissioners overseeing the Port of Baltimore, has a diverse background, including DEI training, university teaching experience, and being the first female chair of the Maryland Automobile Insurance Board. The biographies of the other five commissioners also mention a range of career experiences, such as maritime science, shipping, aviation, corporate law, and Maryland’s transportation department.

Lyman later attempted to distance himself from the controversial posts, blaming them on social media staff and telling The Salt Lake City Tribune that he did not approve the post before it went live. 

In talking to The Salt Lake City Tribune, Lyman blamed his social media staff for the posts, saying he did not approve them before they went live. 

“It was not our best moment,” he told the newspaper. “The post was a knee-jerk reaction to some of the things others were putting out there.” 

“I prefer a dignified approach, and sometimes, the people who handle social media are more provocative than I’m comfortable with,” Lyman said.

The controversial posts remained visible on his account as of Wednesday afternoon.


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