Politics & Government

Kentucky GOP denounces candidate for offensive Facebook posts

In this Facebook post, Dan Johnson, left, poses with friends wearing clothing with Confederate imagery.
In this Facebook post, Dan Johnson, left, poses with friends wearing clothing with Confederate imagery. Screenshot from Facebook

The chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky denounced a GOP state House candidate who refused Friday to apologize for posting images and memes that display prejudice toward a variety of groups on his personal Facebook page.

One image posted by Dan Johnson, the bishop of Heart of Fire Church in Louisville, has this message for Muslims: “Allah sucks. Mohammed sucks. Islam sucks. Any of you Hadji’s have an issue with me saying this, PM me and I’ll gladly give you my address. You can come visit me, where I promise I will KILL YOU in my front yard!!”

Screenshot from Facebook

A photo that alters President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to look like apes and a photo that describes a picture of a chimpanzee as a baby photo of Barack Obama were deleted from his page Thursday after WDRB-TV in Louisville interviewed him about the posts.

Johnson told the Associated Press Friday that he did not delete the images, saying Facebook removed them.

Johnson, who is running against Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, has also posted several pictures of Confederate flags and a status update calling on people to secede from the Union.

He refused to apologize for the posts, instead posting images Friday of himself with black and Muslim people on Facebook.

“I really don’t think I’ve done anything as someone to be a racist,” Johnson told the AP.

State Republican Party Chairman Mac Brown called the posts outrageous and offered an apology to black people on behalf of the party.

“Dan Johnson’s comments and social media posts are outrageous and have no place in today’s political discourse,” Brown said in a written statement. “They represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society and do not in any way, shape or form represent the views of the Republican Party of Kentucky or the many fine candidates representing us on the ballot this November. I want to apologize to the members of Kentucky’s African-American community and assure them that this man’s opinions do not reflect those of this party. We are proud to carry on our heritage as the party of Lincoln and we will continue to fight for the freedoms of each and every Kentuckian, regardless of race, to thrive and flourish here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Johnson should end his candidacy, state party spokesman Tres Watson said Friday.

“I believe it would be the appropriate action on his part to withdraw from the race,” Watson said.

In his interview with WDRB, Johnson defended his posts, calling them satire.

“It wasn’t meant to be racist. I can tell you that. My history’s good there. I can see how people would be offended in that. I wasn’t trying to offend anybody, but, I think Facebook’s entertaining,” Johnson told Lawrence Smith of WDRB.

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Screenshot from Facebook

As of the most recent campaign finance filings, Johnson had no reported donations to his campaign.

Kentucky Democratic Party Chairwoman Sannie Overly, a Democratic House member from Paris, criticized Johnson’s posts in a statement Friday.

“Racism does not deserve a slap on the wrist or a second chance,” Overly said. “The Kentucky Republican Party Chairman has called these comments outrageous and said that they ‘represent the rankest sort of prejudice present in our society,’ and I agree. The only decent option would be for this candidate to withdraw from seeking a role as a lawmaker and representative of the people of Kentucky.”

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics