One of the hallowed but often-disregarded rules for Republican elected officials is that they are only allowed to express their racist opinions in private—in public, they’re supposed to parrot bland statements about the need for racial justice even as they work to stymie anything resembling progress. But local Republican officials in Texas, including the GOP chairs for some of the most populous counties in the state, keep on forgetting that directive, much to the dismay of the state’s top Republicans, who are now forced to call for their resignation.
As the Texas Tribune reports, four county chairs for the Republican Party have in recent days posted some incredibly racist posts on Facebook. On Sunday, Sue Piner, the chair of the Comal County Republican Party, shared a post that, according to the Texas Tribune, “included an image of liberal billionaire George Soros and text that said, ‘I pay white cops to murder black people. And then I pay black people to riot because race wars keep the sheep in line.’” This is not only wildly anti-Semitic, but incredibly anti-black, given its assumption that not only is a rich Jewish American pulling the strings behind the scenes, but that black people only act under the guidance of others.
Two more Republican Party county chairs also decided to join this very racist online party, by similarly sharing on Facebook the conspiracy theory that George Soros is somehow behind George Floyd’s murder. On May 29, Jim Kaelin, the Republican chair in Nueces County, which includes the city of Corpus Christi, posted what he said was an email he received from a “state police investigator” that stated that Floyd’s murder by police officer Derek Chauvin was a “staged event” and “a filmed public execution of a black man by a white cop, with the purpose of creating racial tensions” and to derail Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, all masterminded by George Soros. “You can draw your own conclusions, but this appears to have all the earmarks of George Soros. Please open your eyes!!!!” the email concludes.
A few days later, Bexar County Republican Party chair Cynthia Brehm shared the exact same email on her Facebook page. While Brehm has since deleted her post, part of it was captured by San Antonio Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia:
Not to be outdone, Keith Nielsen, who was recently elected the Republican Party chair for Harris County, which includes Houston, somehow decided now was the time to share an image on Facebook that, per the Texas Tribune, “showed a Martin Luther King Jr. quote — ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ — on a background with a banana.” Nielsen got the memo that cherrypicked MLK quotes are now safe for racists to post, but somehow missed the line about not including any racist imagery along with it, I guess!
Now, even the state’s top Republicans like Governor Greg Abbott and Land Commissioner George P. Bush (yes of that family) are calling for the county chairs to resign.
“These comments are disgusting and have no place in the Republican Party or in public discourse,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman wrote in a statement to the Texas Tribune, referring to the posts made by Brehm and Kaelin. Wittman added, “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.”
And George P. Bush wants all four of the chairs to step down. “I have said it before and I will say it again now: the GOP must not tolerate racism. Of any kind. At any time,” he wrote in a tweet.
Good luck with that!