Carl Paladino ran for governor of New York in 2010 and worked for Donald Trump's campaign
"I certainly am not a racist," Paladino said
A Donald Trump ally and former Republican gubernatorial candidate apologized Tuesday for remarks he made to a weekly paper in Buffalo about President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, saying, “I certainly am not a racist.”
In his statement provided to CNN affiliate WKBW, Carl Paladino apologized to “the minority community who I spent years trying to help out of the cycle of poverty in our inner cities.”
Paladino, a member of the Buffalo Board of Education, added: “I did not mean to send those answers to Artvoice. Not that it makes any difference because what I wrote was inappropriate under any circumstance. I filled out the survey to send to a couple friends and forwarded it to them not realizing that I didn’t hit ‘forward’ I hit ‘reply.’ All men make mistakes.”
Paladino told Artvoice.com that Michelle Obama was the person whom he would “most like to see go in 2017.”
“I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla,” Paladino said.
Paladino, who served as co-chair for Trump’s campaign in New York, also made remarks about the President. In response to a question about what his hopes for 2017, Paladino said, “Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.”
In a statement to USA Today over the weekend, Trump’s transition team said “Carl’s comments are absolutely reprehensible, and they serve no place in our public discourse,”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who beat Paladino in the governor’s race in 2010, called the comments “racist, ugly and reprehensible.”
“While most New Yorkers know Mr. Paladino is not to be taken seriously, as his erratic behavior defies any rational analysis and he has no credibility, his words are still jarring,” Cuomo said in a statement. “His remarks do not reflect the sentiments or opinions of any real New Yorker and he has embarrassed the good people of the state with his latest hate-filled rage.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, called on Paladino to resign his seat on the Buffalo school board.
“These comments harken back to the darkest days of racism in our nation’s history,” Poloncarz said. “Anyone who has these beliefs is unfit to hold public office and especially unfit to oversee the education of children.”
Paladino stated that he does not intend to leave the school board, “not when it’s time to help implement the real choice elements of Trump’s plan for education reform.”
The New York State United Teachers, the union representing more than 600,000 educators and health care professionals across New York State has also called for Paladino’s removal, releasing a statement Wednesday saying he is “unfit to serve.”
“We stand with parents and concerned citizens across New York State in calling upon the state education commissioner to immediately remove Carl Paladino from the Buffalo school board,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “His racist rants are despicable. He is unfit to hold a position of responsibility affecting students and their well-being. As educators, we are dedicated to ensuring our students learn in classrooms and on campuses where the values of respect and civility are paramount. We condemn this disgusting, racist behavior and call for Carl Paladino’s removal.”
This isn’t the first time Paladino has attracted attention for making comments seen as racially insensitive.
In July, he tweeted, “Lynch @LorettaLynch let the Grand Jury decide,” according to reports and screengrabs on Twitter. He later told CNN an assistant mistakenly tried to send the tweet to Lynch and unintentionally wrote “lynch” in front of her name. He later deleted the tweet and replaced it without “lynch” in front of the attorney general’s name.
In April, Paladino talked about exterminators ridding government of “raccoons in the basement,” which is also a racial slur for African-Americans that many interpreted as being directed toward President Obama.
And as a gubernatorial candidate in 2010, Paladino faced scrutiny for explicit and racist emails he apparently sent to friends.
CNN’s Theodore Schleifer contributed to this report