Some Orange County Republican leaders are denouncing an email distributed by a long-serving party committee member that portrays President Obama's face superimposed on a chimpanzee, with the words: "Now you know why -- No birth certificate!"
County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh has called for the resignation of Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the party central committee who sent the email to some committee members and others last week. Baugh said he received it Friday afternoon and quickly responded with an email telling Davenport it was "dripping with racism and is in very poor taste." He said the issue should be referred to the Orange County GOP's ethics committee.
According to an email Baugh sent to committee members Saturday, Davenport described the Obama photo as a "joke" and wanted to know who had leaked the email to the OC Weekly's R. Scott Moxley, who broke the story. She called the leak "cowardly" and wrote, "Anyone brave enough to come forward?"
Reached at her home in Fullerton on Saturday, Davenport declined to comment. In an email to central committee colleagues, however, she described the controversy as "much to do about nothing" and vowed that she would not resign.
"I'm sorry if my email offended anyone, I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth," she wrote. "In no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email. In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race. We all know a double standard applies regarding this president. I received plenty of emails about George Bush that I didn't particularly like, yet there was no 'cry' in the media about them."
If Davenport refuses to resign, she should be ousted, said Michael Schroeder, former chairman of the CaliforniaRepublican Party and an Orange County GOP activist. "I looked at it, and my jaw dropped," Schroeder said.
Tim Whitacre, another long-serving committee member, came to Davenport's defense, describing her as "a polite, gentle grandmother." He said Baugh was using the issue as "political payback" because Davenport has been critical of Baugh's leadership. He said Davenport sent him the Obama email last week, but it did not offend him because he regarded it as "a light-hearted stab over the birther question."
"We send emails back and forth -- motivational, fun, this and that," Whitacre said. He described her email as a personal one, having no connection to GOP business, and he said there were no grounds for an ethics case.