A close aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-authored the senator’s 2011 book has stepped down following weeks of controversy over his decade-long career as a pro-Confederate shock jock and secession advocate after the Washington Free Beacon reported on his provocative statements.
Paul family insider and social media director Jack Hunter announced his resignation in an email to the Daily Caller on Sunday.
"I’ve long been a conservative, and years ago, a much more politically incorrect (and campy) one," Hunter told the Daily Caller. "But there’s a significant difference between being politically incorrect and racist. I’ve also become far more libertarian over the years, a philosophy that encourages a more tolerant worldview, through the lens of which I now look back on some of my older comments with embarrassment."
In the days leading up to Hunter’s resignation, the Free Beacon had been reaching out to sources regarding previously unreported radio recordings in which Hunter called Abraham Lincoln "the American Hitler," joked that he would like to see the president of the NAACP tied to a tree and whipped, and alleged that black and Hispanic advocacy groups are more loyal to their races than to America.
Paul’s office did not immediately respond to requests for the details surrounding Hunter’s departure. But Hunter told the Free Beacon he chose to leave and was not forced out.
"This was completely my decision," said Hunter.
Hunter, 39, was known as the "Southern Avenger" on a now-defunct South Carolina rock radio station from 1999 to 2007. He served as a chairman for a chapter of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate group that advocates for Southern secession, in the late 1990s.
Paul hired Hunter to co-write his 2010 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Hunter then worked as a strategist and political blogger former Rep. Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. He was hired in Sen. Paul’s office as the social media director in the fall of 2012.
Paul defended Hunter in an interview with the Huffington Post earlier this month. Paul said he found many of Hunter’s comments "absolutely stupid," but that he would have hired him despite his past views.
The Free Beacon recently obtained a CD of pro-Confederate and racially charged commentary that Hunter recorded while working as a pro-secessionist shock jock.
The "Southern Avenger Smash Tracks: 20 Essentials, Vol. 1" was released in 2004. It included 20 of Hunter’s radio commentaries, and was available for purchase on his website for $10 until 2007.
"The sadistic policies and tactics of Abraham Lincoln destroyed the America of the Founding Fathers," said Hunter in one track. "And as I gaze at the picture on my wall of my great-grandfather, who fought bravely against that sick bearded bastard, I still dream of what could have been—our glorious Confederate States of America. When the Southern Avenger sees a five-dollar bill, he sees Hitler."
"The reason we Southerners remember the war is because it does matter—just like slavery, just like the Holocaust," Hunter added. "The horror our people suffered should never be forgotten."
In another track, Hunter criticized then-NAACP President and former congressman Kweisi Mfume and director Spike Lee.
"The other complaint voiced by professional racist Spike Lee and NAACP Grand Wizard Kweisi Mfume is that the film [The Patriot] ignored the issue of slavery," said Hunter. "Since race-baiters like Spike Lee and Kweisi Mfume base their whole identity on their victim status, and get upset when someone dares not cater to it, I have a solution for them.
"Let’s convince the producers of the Patriot to reshoot a scene in which Spike Lee and Kweisi Mfume are both tied to trees while Mel Gibson whips the hell out of them," Hunter continued. "Mr. Lee and Mr. Mfume will get the pity they so desperately desire, and millions of Americans—especially the Southern Avenger—will get a real kick out of watching them squirm."
In another commentary, Hunter said white people deserved a "long-overdue" thank-you for ending slavery.
"If it weren’t for white people, who knows how long slavery would have lasted?" said Hunter. "The very fact that slavery still exists today in African countries like Ghana and Sudan really makes one wonder."
"These anti-slavery marchers might not like to hear this, but while modern Africans, Arabs, and Westerners are all the descendants of slave-owners, only white Westerners are the descendants of those who abolished slavery," he added. "And if people like this bunch are going to continue to insist on getting all worked up over centuries-old injustices, then a big thank you to white people is long overdue."
A long-time Democratic operative close to the Clintons said in an interview with the Free Beacon that the recordings would undoubtedly become a problem for Paul during a presidential bid.
"Democratic ad-makers are salivating," said the Democrat. "After defending this guy—and the rumors of [Paul’s] own past views and his association with his father and his father’s past—no sudden apology could make these go away."
Hillary Clinton is widely considered the presumptive leader for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
Niger Innis, a Tea Party leader and the spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality, praised Paul’s outreach to the black community as "laudable," but added that the controversy over his staffer would likely haunt him in a presidential bid.
"I think Senator Paul needs to be judged by the content of his actions and not the political predilection of his staff, unless it has a direct and specific direct impact on the Senator’s actions," said Innis. "Unfortunately in the environment that we are in … where the media is super sensitive, bordering obsessed, with the issue of race … in that kind of atmosphere this issue unfortunately will trail the senator."
Hunter was slated to moderate a panel composed of Sens. Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee at the Young Americans for Liberty conference later this month, according to a July 16 press release. As of Saturday, he was no longer listed as a convention speaker on the YAL website.
YAL did not respond to requests for comment as to why Hunter had been removed from the site as of press time.
From 2008 until 2012, Hunter wrote for the Charleston City Paper. In a column last Thursday, Hunter’s former editor at the paper Chris Haire wrote that Hunter recently asked him to remove dozens of posts from the site that may have jeopardized his Paul’s career, including ones that allegedly supported the racial profiling of Hispanics and likened Lincoln to Hitler.
"The Jack Hunter of the Charleston City Paper years was every bit as radical as the Jack Hunter of 96 Wave," wrote Haire.
Haire told the Free Beacon on Thursday that he rejected Hunter’s request to remove between 30 and 50 of his columns from the website. He said Sen. Paul was trying to keep a leash on Hunter.
"I always told [Hunter] that was going to happen," Haire said. "What plays well in South Carolina is not going to play well nationally."
"I really get a sense that the Paul camp has, you know, sort of been muzzling Jack Hunter," Haire added. "I think they totally have muzzled Jack Hunter. I think they have tried to make him not espouse things, he can’t express his point of view anymore."