Contentious messages from a "WNC GOP" Twitter account are attracting media attention from across the state, leading the North Carolina Republican Party to distance itself from the anonymous group.
A recent tweet from @wncgop calling Asheville Democratic legislator Susan Fisher a "shrew" and "an argument for eugenics" was covered July 29 by WCNC in Charlotte.
And in recent weeks, the account has also called Planned Parenthood a "meat grinder" akin to Nazis, declared that an Asheville abortion clinic is an "African American slaughterhouse" and asserted that the slave character played by Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained is "the personification of Black Democratic Leadership in N.C. today." In addition to causing heated local debate on Twitter, WWNC Radio Host Pete Kaliner has discussed the issue on his program. (See a sample of screen shots of some of the statements below. More on Flickr here.)
Asked about those statements, Mike Rusher, chief of staff and communications director for the N.C. Republican Party, reports that the Twitter outlet is not speaking on behalf of the party.
"We don't condone any of the tweets that you've brought to my attention," he says. "It's not OK for anyone to put that type of inflammatory statement out there, whether they're a GOP group, a Democratic group or not."
Rusher says that he only became aware of the @wncgop group in recent days, noting that its biographical description now makes clear that "they are not affiliated with the North Carolina Republican Party."
However, that disclaimer was only added to the @wncgop biography in the last week. For most of the time since the account went online last year, it simply described itself as "Helping WNC Republicans get elected one Tweet at a time," leading to confusion over its affiliation with the party.
Original bio statement:
Revised bio statement:
Rusher says he didn't see that original description, but reiterated that the group is "not officially affiliated with any official local, state or national party organization."
"If we encounter any username on Twitter that is essentially impersonating the North Carolina Republican Party, we will take appropriate action," Rusher warns.
Rusher also reports that he's not yet been able to determine who exactly is behind the group. However, he says the state party organizes itself by congressional district, county and precinct – not by geographical region like the @wncgop implies.
Meanwhile, Nathan West, communications director of the Buncombe County Republican Party, says he doesn't know who runs the @wncgop handle, but reports that "they are not affiliated with the BCGOP." West is in charge of a team of people who administer its @bcgop Twitter account.
However, on several occasions over the last year, the @wncgop and @bcgop have tweeted the exact same messages concurrently, making it likely that someone had access to both accounts simultaneously.
No one responded from @wncgop to a private message from Xpress seeking comment and asking who is responsible for the account.
UPDATE (Aug. 1):
Soon after this article was published, the @bcgop Twitter account posted the below messages:
Update (Aug. 2):
As of Aug. 2, the @wncgop Twitter account changed its name to "@wncDISAVOWED," changed its profile picture to a photo of Rep. Susan Fisher, and erased its biographical statement completely. It is continuing to post a variety of incendiary political messages. The account posted no explanation of the changes, but did remark: "Now that we've been disavowed, think of all the fun we can have!" before declaring that "abortion is the most effective means of Democratic voter suppression we have..." Here's a sample of screen shots taken Aug. 2: