Tea party member who sent racist email depicting Obama and parents as chimps cannot be fired – and refuses to resign
www.dailymail.co.uk — The Tea Party member who sparked nationwide anger when she sent a racist email depicting Barack Obama as a chimpanzee cannot be sacked – and refuses to resign.
Marilyn Davenport, 74, an elected member of the Orange County Republican Party and central committee, has apologised for the leaked email but said she sees no reason why she should step down.
Her determination to stay put is likely to frustrate members of her own party, including the local party chairman who has demanded her resignation but cannot sack her under the committee’s bye-laws.
The email, which she sent to a small group of committee members on Friday, contained a mocked-up photo of the President as a baby chimpanzee being held by his so-called parents – also chimps in human clothing.
The caption read ‘Now you know why – No birth certificate!’
It was leaked to an Orange County newspaper soon after she sent it, provoking a national outcry.
Local party chairman Scott Bough called it ‘extremely racist’ and the California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People termed it ‘racist, outrageous and disrespectful’.
But the presidents of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable and the Los Angeles Civil Rights issued a joint statement attacking Mr Bough’s handling of the scandal, saying his ‘refusal to take action to expel Davenport from the GOP’s top policy-making body is a blatant endorsement of racism by a GOP top official.’
Mrs Davenport sent an apology by email on Monday afternoon ahead of the committee’s monthly summit, in which she described herself as an ‘imperfect Christian’ and asked for forgiveness.
It was better-received than her apology on Saturday, which described the email as a ‘joke.’
On Monday she wrote: ‘To my fellow Americans and to everyone else who has seen this email I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior.
‘I say unwise because at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn’t stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive.
‘I am an imperfect Christian lady who tries her best to live a Christ-like honoring life. I would never do anything to intentionally harm or berate others regardless of ethnicity. Everyone who knows me knows that to be true.’
At the meeting, Mr Baugh told about 75 members he condemned her actions and believed Mrs Davenport should still resign despite her ‘sincere apology’, because her presence on the committee would be a ‘distraction’.
He said: ‘The eyes of the nation are focused on us tonight because of the actions of a member of this committee. I do not know what was in the heart of Marilyn Davenport when she sent that email, only she does. I want to accept and do accept that Marilyn is not a racist.
‘The email is without question extremely racist. Depicting African-Americans as monkey is a longtime, well-known and particularly offensive slur because it denies them their basic humanity.’
He said the local ethics committee would investigate the incident and interview Mrs Davenport this week.
She received support from Tim Whitacre, an Orange County conservative activist, who described her as a ‘petite grandmother’ who taught Bible study and had a heart condition.
Mr Whitacre said she was terrified by the furore she had caused and had taken her phone off the hook because she had received so many angry calls.
He asked the committee to forgive her and accept her apology, but said she didn’t intend to resign. She is not up for election until 2012.
He said: ‘Who among us has done something, said something or sent something we didn’t regret later? Let those among us who are without sin cast the first stone. This lady is sincere, I know her heart.
‘This is her apology and I believe her, we need to believe her. She’s hunkered down at home, scared, afraid for her safety.’
it’s the second time in just two years an Orange County political officials has made the headlines with emails criticising Mr Obama.
In early 2009 Dean Grose, the mayor of Los Alamitos, forwarded an email from his personal account depicting a picture of the White House with a watermelon patch in front of it.
He was forced to resign amid the backlash.