Virginia GOP official accused of racist online post resigns
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Republican local elections official in Virginia has resigned, according to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office, after being accused of posting a racist tirade on Facebook.
Youngkin and other officials called over the weekend for the resignation of David Dietrich, a member of the electoral board in the city of Hampton, after a local TV station reported Dietrich had been accused of using the racist language, including a slur against Black people and a call for a “public lynching.”
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said Monday that Dietrich had agreed to resign. Other local officials also confirmed Dietrich had stepped down.
The Republican Party of Hampton drew attention to the issue in its own Facebook post Friday, saying it had become aware of a Facebook post from Dietrich in which he used “abhorrent and unacceptable racist language.”
The group included a screenshot of the apparent post, which was dated Feb. 17, 2021, and appeared to have been removed or made private by Monday. The screenshot included language criticizing Lloyd Austin, the nation’s first Black secretary of defense, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who was tapped by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to review the Capitol’s security after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“We are being forced into a corner by these enemies of the People,” the post said. “If it is civil war they want, they will get it in spades. Perhaps the best way to pull us back from the brink is a good public lynching.”
The Associated Press could not immediately reach Dietrich for comment. The AP left a message seeking comment at a number listed for Dietrich and called an emergency planning business he appeared to be associated with. A person who answered the phone said Dietrich was unavailable and quickly hung up.
The local Republican party initially said it had demanded Dietrich’s resignation but he had refused.
Youngkin tweeted Saturday that it was time for Dietrich to go.
“As governor, I serve all Virginians. I won’t accept racism in our Commonwealth or our party. The abhorrent words of a Hampton Roads official are beyond unacceptable and have no place in Virginia,” he said.
Other lawmakers and elected officials also condemned the post.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus called the comments “atrocious.”
“Members of the VLBC were glad to see members of the GOP call for Dietrich’s resignation and invite more members of the GOP to condemn his racist language and behaviors,” the group said.
Republican Del. A.C. Cordoza, whose district includes Hampton, was among those who called on Dietrich to resign, WAVY-TV reported.
“Racial discrimination and bigotry have no place in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said in a statement to the TV station.
Hampton GOP Chairman Phil Siff, who could not immediately be reached by the AP, told the station Dietrich had resigned and had also been removed from the political committee.
In Virginia, electoral board members for each locality are appointed by local courts based on recommendations from the local political parties. They handle a wide range of responsibilities related to administering elections.