Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF
- Local Texas GOP leaders are under fire after spreading the conspiracy theory that George Floyd’s death was a “staged event” to rally opposition towards President Donald Trump.
- Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz have called for the Bexar and Nueces County chairs to resign; the Harris County chairman also shared the conspiracy theory.
- The Harris County chairman and Comal County chairwoman both shared racially divisive posts on Facebook.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called for the resignation of two GOP county leaders after they shared conspiracy theories around the death of George Floyd.
“These comments are disgusting and have no place in the Republican Party or in public discourse,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said in a statement Thursday morning, the Texas Tribune reported.
GOP chairs from Bexar and Nueces counties posted to separate social media pages that George Floyd’s death was a “staged event” as part of a conspiracy theory to rally opposition towards President Trump, according to the Tribune.
Floyd died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes, video of the incident shows.
Bexar County GOP Chairwoman Cynthia Brehm shared a post that described Floyd’s death as a “possibly filmed public execution for the purpose of creating racial tensions.” Sharing the post, Brehm commented: “rising approval rating of President Trump in the black community is why an event like this was unfortunately predictable.”
Brehm said that while she did not agree with what the post said, she would not resign, the Tribune reported.
I have said it before and I will say it again now: the GOP must not tolerate racism. Of any kind. At any time. The appalling behavior by the four GOP County leaders must not stand. I urge them to do the honorable thing and step aside now. https://t.co/84CiZFW1kx
— George P. Bush (@georgepbush) June 5, 2020
Abbott condemned Brehm’s statements and called for her resignation on Thursday, the Tribune reported. Other Texas Republicans soon echoed Abbott’s call for Brehm’s resignation, among them Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey. Dickey said that he personally reached out to ask Brehm to step down, the Tribune reported.
Former Republican Texas House Speaker Joe Straus claimed that Brehm has a “long history of making racist and inflammatory statements, peddling conspiracy theories, and bringing embarrassment upon Bexar County Republicans,” the Tribune reported. Straus said in a statement that it was “well past time for her to resign.”
Nueces County GOP Chairman Jim Kaelin shared the same post Brehm shared, calling it an “interesting perspective,” the Tribune reported. Abbott also called for Kaelin’s resignation, Wittman told 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,” Wittman said in a statement.
— Evan Smith (@evanasmith) June 5, 2020
Harrison County GOP Chair Lee Lester also spread the same conspiracy theory that Floyd’s death was staged in a Harris County Republican Party Facebook group commenting that the theory was “food for thought,” the Tribune reported.
Harris County GOP Chairman-elect Keith Nielsen posted a Martin Luther King Jr. quote over the image of a banana on Facebook and later deleted the post, the Tribune reported. “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. My hope is I will continue to be part of the solution and never part of the problem,” Nielsen said.
Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw told the Tribune that “Nielsen has no place in our party. Not now. Not ever,” and described Nielsen’s post as “a sad reminder that such blatant ignorance and bigotry still exists.”
Comal County GOP Chairwoman Sue Piner shared a post 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,” alongside a photo of George Soros, the Tribune reported.