A Maine Republican state senator is apologizing to his colleagues for a Facebook post suggesting President Obama’s family members are part of Islamic State, but he’s resisting Democrat calls for him to resign.
Sen. Michael Willette’s troubles began March 1 when he reposted a picture to his Facebook page critical of Obama.
“I’ve been very good over the last year and a half not posting things about Obama, but this one was too good to pass up. I promise this will be the last one for some time,” he commented when posting the image of Obama speaking into a microphone, appearing to say, “Why haven’t I done anything about ISIS? Because I’ll deal with them at the family reunion.”
The post, along with earlier ones publicized by a liberal blogger that reportedly expressed animosity to Muslims and accused members of the administration of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood, brought criticism from the state’s Democrat Party.
“Senator Willette’s extensive history of offensive, bigoted and racist remarks suggests that they represent his core beliefs, which have no place in the State House and damage the integrity of the office he holds,” Chairman Phil Bartlett said in a statement, according to Associated Press.
“I am as far from being a racist as you can get,” said Willette, who served in the Gulf War. “When I served in the military I had a vast array of friends. Any connotation to racism in those posts, if that is what it was construed to be, that is not the intent.”
Willette – a former Democrat – said he had voted for Obama in 2008 but has become frustrated with his policies and performance since, prompting him to make critical remarks.
“I think many of us can identify with the temptation to not listen to our better angels and instead to lash out publicly against those with whom we disagree,” he said in an apology given to his colleagues. “As a state legislator, I am held to a higher standard — we all are — and we need to show restraint.”
Willette rejected calls by Democrats that he resign, and the Republican leadership appears to be resisting Democrat demands the senator be reprimanded.
Noting Willette’s apology, Senate President Michael Thibodeau said, “Sen. Willette feels terrible about what’s happened and we’ve talked several times about what’s the best way to express his regret on the situation. I think he did that today. I don’t know what else anybody could expect.
“It’s sad if we get to the point where we fan this flame just to score political points.”