A South Carolina gay rights group excused a pair of top aides to Democratic Senate nominee Jaime Harrison after they used homophobic slurs online.
SC Equality defended Harrison's political director, Bre Maxwell, and communications director, Guy-Lee King, after the Washington Free Beacon reported on the staffers' history of offensive comments online. Maxwell used the terms "faggot" and "fag" at least six times in tweets sent between January 2012 and August 2013. King called "getting involved with women's problems" "gay atf" in 2014 and said a man was "so gay" for being "in bed wit dudez n touch dey earz" in 2010. Harrison's campaign said the matter "would be handled internally" on Wednesday, one day after the Free Beacon report.
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"I have known Jaime and his team for a long time, and the statements made on Twitter don't represent the fine team I know," SC Equality executive director Jeff Ayers told The State on Wednesday. "Let's get back to focusing on the campaign."
The group's federal electoral arm, SC Equality Coalition, endorsed Harrison in September. Maxwell served on the group's board as recently as 2017 and spoke alongside Ayers at a January 2016 roundtable. The group has admonished the use of homophobic slurs in the past, linking such remarks to "alarming rates of bullying in schools" and increased suicide rates among "LGBT youth" in its 2015 "LGBT Best Practices Manual."
SC Equality also endorses candidates for local office through its state-level political action committee. While the committee claims to be "non-partisan," all 67 of its current 2020 cycle endorsements went to Democrats.
While Harrison has not responded to a Tuesday request for comment from the Free Beacon, he told The State that his staff's language "has no place in our state" and that he "addressed this personally with these individuals and my entire team." Harrison campaign manager Zack Carroll also told The State that the matter "would be handled internally," saying the "inappropriate" posts are "inconsistent with the values of our campaign and violate our employee policies."
In addition to her homophobic remarks, Maxwell praised anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 2014 and criticized the use of the term "ghetto" in 2012 "because ghetto is a Jewish term and the jewish Americans are wealthy." The posts came years after Maxwell graduated from South Carolina State University in 2006.
King, meanwhile, made a slew of misogynistic comments, tweeting "U ain't to fat n ugly to git raped LMAO!!!!!!" in 2010 and "Dear Mrs. Lavine suck my dick biiiiiitch!!!!!" in 2011. His controversial posts were sent while in high school and college.
Following the Free Beacon report, Maxwell locked her Twitter account and deleted her LinkedIn profile, while King deleted the posts in question. The pair went on to apologize for the tweets in internal emails shared with The State. Maxwell said that she has "been on the receiving end of hurtful remarks" and "never wanted my words to be a source of pain for any community." King wrote that as a "Black gay man," he "know[s] how hurtful words like this can be."