Updated at 3:56 p.m. ET: The chairman of the Rutland County, Vt., Republican Committee on Tuesday admitted to posting comments on Facebook that he said were meant to be satirical but which Democrats labeled “racist” and “appalling.”
In a statement issued to the local newspaper, the Rutland Herald, Rob Towle said he took full responsibility for the post, which has since been taken down along with the entire Rutland County GOP Facebook page.
Towle called his post “stupid and insensitive” and said he was “truly sorry.”
His statement continued:
"It was a case of bad judgement and anyone that knows me, knows that the post does not reflect my personal values, nor does it in any way reflect the values or beliefs of any GOP official, Candidate, GOP worker, or any person that I am friends with or associate with. At no time was any person other than myself involved with this post and I wanted to make sure people understand I take full responsibility.
In writing this statement (with a heavy heart and great sorrow), I hope this message will reach those offended and will take this apology for face value and find it in their hearts to forgive."
The post was spotted on Sunday by the Vermont political blog Green Mountain Daily. It read:
“Just wanted to let you know - today I received my 2012 Social Security Stimulus Package. It contained two tomato seeds, cornbread mix, a prayer rug, a machine to blow smoke up my butt, 2 discount coupons to KFC, an "Obama Hope & Change" bumper sticker, and a "Blame it on Bush" poster for the front yard. The directions were in Spanish. Watch for yours soon.”
Green Mountain Daily also pointed to three comments written by the Rutland County GOP in response to the post. One read “Comedy is usually based in reality ... call it racist if you must ... not too far off from the truth (I didn’t write this one but it IS funny and scary at the same time).”
By Monday, the post was deleted and Towle issued a statement saying the post was meant to be "satirical" and intended to "show the author's frustration at the current economic situation that he/she finds themselves in."
"I realize now that there are those that were deeply offended and for that I am very saddened and I will make sure that our editoral process will result in posts to our pages that reflect the spirit of good natured political discussions. My hope is that we can get back to the critical dialog necessary to move Vermont and the US back towards economic prosperity.”
On Tuesday, the entire Rutland County GOP Facebook page was taken offline.
Towle wouldn’t comment to NBC News on Tuesday beyond what he wrote in the letter to the Herald.
Vermont Democratic Party Chair Jake Perkinson called the original post discriminatory, noting it came the same week that Republican Gov. Paul LePage of Maine compared the IRS to the Gestapo.
“For the second time in a week, Vermont Republican Party Chair Lindley is continuing to sit by and allow his candidates and county chairs to align with discriminatory remarks instead of discussing a real plan for strengthening Vermont’s middle class and economic future,” Perkinson said in a statement Monday.
“Comparing the 2012 Social Security Stimulus Package to racist rhetoric is appalling. Deleting the post from the internet is not enough, both the Rutland County Republicans and Lindley should apologize for vile comments that only move Vermont backwards.”
In a follow-up email to NBC News on Tuesday, Perkinson described Towle's Monday comments as “sophomoric and insincere.”
“Instead of apologizing, he attempts to shift the blame for his actions to 'Democrats' for being offended by his racist post. Mr. Towle should take full responsibility for his words and make a meaningful apology.”
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