Orange County Republican Central Committee to meet over Marilyn Davenport
4/18/2011, 12:15 p.m.
IRVINE, Calif.--The Orange County Republican Central Committee will meet tonight to discuss the actions of a member who sent out an email with a picture of President Barack Obama's face on the body of a baby chimpanzee, but the organization is limited on what type of discipline it can mete out.
"The bottom line is state law precludes the committee from terminating her membership,'' Republican Party of Orange County Chairman Scott Baugh told City News Service. "She's an elected member, elected by the public, and there are very narrow reasons you can remove her, and her racist e-mail is not one of them.
"The most we can do is adopt a resolution condemning what she's done and encourage her to apologize and encourage her to resign,'' he said.
Marilyn Davenport, a Fullerton resident, recently emailed a picture with Obama's face superimposed over a baby chimp's face with the caption, "Now you know why--No birth certificate!''
Baugh said he was disgusted when he received the email and immediately scolded her for it.
"I was shocked. I took offense to it and I immediately replied to her email that this is dripping with racism. Don't send email like this,'' Baugh said. "I was the first to ask her to resign and she's resisted that.''
The GOP chairman said Davenport has not responded to his emailed reply.
Davenport could not be reached for comment, but she told the O.C. Weekly the email was not racist.
"You're not going to make a big deal about this, are you? Oh, come on!'' she said. "Everybody who knows me knows I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black.''
If Davenport attends the central committee's meeting tonight at the Hyatt Regency Irvine, Baugh said he has advice for her.
"She should admit it was an error in judgment and apologize to the committee,'' Baugh said. "Free speech is the oxygen of a free society, but with free speech comes responsibility. If you are an elected official you have a heightened responsibility.''
Baugh also criticized any attempt to equate widely disseminated emails of George W. Bush when he was president comparing him to a monkey to the Obama email.
"Comparing George Bush to a monkey is suggesting he's not smart,'' Baugh said, adding comparing Obama to a monkey is racist.
"Both are inappropriate, but one is worse,'' Baugh said. "The historical comparison of African Americans to monkeys is horrible.''
Over the weekend black leaders in the Southland called on Orange County GOP leaders to have Davenport removed from the committee.
Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson and Los Angeles Civil Rights Association President Eddie Jones issued a joint statement calling on Baugh to remove Davenport from the committee.
"Baugh's refusal to take action to expel Davenport from the GOP's top policy-making body is a blatant endorsement of racism by a GOP top official,'' they said.
Alice Huffman, the president of the NAACP in California, also condemned the picture, saying in a statement from Sacramento: "There is no way that depicting the president of the United States as less than human can be considered anything but a racist act.''
But she did not echo Hutchinson's criticism of the GOP's Orange County leadership.
"The California NAACP does appreciate that many of Mrs. Davenport's Republican colleagues have condemned her actions and called for her resignation from the Orange County Republican Central Committee,'' Huffman said.
She said her organization "calls on Marilyn Davenport to resign from the Orange County Republican Central Committee and if she continues to refuse to, we call for the Orange County Ethics Committee to look into her actions.''