The Republican chairs of four Texas counties have recently promoted on Facebook unfounded conspiracy theories related to the death of George Floyd, leading Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Republicans in the state to condemn the posts and call on some of GOP chairs to resign, according to The Texas Tribune.
The counties represented by the chairs range from urban to rural, and include downtown and suburban San Antonio, Corpus Christi and lesser-populated parts of east Texas.
Bexar County Republican Chairwoman Cynthia Brehm on Facebook earlier this week floated a conspiracy theory that Floyd’s death was a “staged event,” the Tribune reported Thursday. There is no evidence that Floyd’s death was staged.
“I think there is at the very least the ‘possibility,’ that this was a filmed public execution of a black man by a white cop, with the purpose of creating racial tensions,” Brehm wrote, according to a screenshot of the now-deleted Facebook post taken by a San Antonio Express-News columnist.
Nueces County GOP Chairman Jim Kaelin shared the same message on his Facebook page last week. And Harrison County GOP Chairman Lee Lester shared the same message on Sunday with the county Facebook group.
The post ends: “You can draw your own conclusions, but this appears to have all the earmarks of George Soros. Please open your eyes.”
Lester told KLTV, a CNN affiliate station in Texas, that he “just shared it because it’s food for thought. I don’t have any idea what really happened.”
A spokesman for Abbott, John Wittman, told the Tribune that the governor wants Brehm and Kaelin to resign. CNN has reached out to Abbott’s office.
“These comments are disgusting and have no place in the Republican Party or in public discourse,” Wittman said in a statement Thursday to the Tribune.
“Spreading conspiracy theories that the murder was staged simply defies reality; it is irresponsible, and unbecoming of anyone who holds a position in the GOP,” he told the paper.
Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick on Twitter said Brehm must “resign now, today.”
“There is no excuse for this outrageous, ignorant racist message made worse by using her position as a local party leader to spread it,” he wrote, saying that it doesn’t reflect the thinking of Bexar County or the GOP.
The head of the Texas GOP, James Dickey, said in a statement Friday that he personally called all four county chairs asking them to resign from their positions.
“Their actions do not reflect the Republican Party of Texas’ history, values, members, or principles.”
The current Harris County GOP chair Paul Simpson in a statement Thursday called Brehm’s comments “nonsensical” and “utterly inappropriate” and demanded she resign.
Despite the mounting pressure, Breham told Spectrum News that she has no plans to step down.
Meanwhile, Sue Gafford Piner, chair of the Comal County Republican Party, posted an image Sunday of liberal billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, with text that read, “I pay white cops to murder black people. And then I pay black people to riot because race wars keep the sheep in line,” according to the Tribune.
The image was deleted from her page as of Friday.
County GOP chair-elect shares image denounced as racist
Earlier this week, the GOP chairman-elect in Harris County, Keith Nielsen, posted to Facebook an image of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” — featured with a banana, according to the Tribune.
The newspaper reported that Nielsen deleted the post and addressed it on his Facebook page Thursday, saying, “It is unfortunate that the sentiment of the quote and my admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been overshadowed by people’s misinterpretation of an image.”
Harris County encompasses Houston and the surrounding area.
By Friday morning, it appeared that Nielsen deleted the Facebook account he used to post the image.
US Sen. Ted Cruz and Patrick both tweeted on Friday that Nielsen should step down and withdraw from consideration as county chair.
“Dammit, stop it. Stop saying stupid, racist things. Our country is grieving,” Cruz wrote.
Patrick said the image shared by Nielsen is “offensive to me and it should be to every Republican,” adding that there’s “no excuse for this outrageous behavior.”
Dickey added that he asked Nielsen not to accept the role of Harris County’s GOP chair.
In a response to a question from CNN about Nielsen’s post, Simpson said, “As leaders of our Party, we should always reject racial intolerance, prejudice, bigotry, and violence of any kind. We must constantly strive to ensure our words and visualizations clearly and precisely promote our ideals of equality, family, and personal freedom.”
He called on GOP leaders to “meet this moment by listening and working closely with all leaders in our local communities.”
Simpson did not say whether Nielsen should assume the chair role.