Remember Bob FitzSimmons? FitzSimmons is the Treasurer of the Virginia Republican Party? FitzSimmons used an offensive slang word to describe women in a Facebook post, but survived calls for his resignation. Well, he is in trouble again, and this time, FitzSimmons did resign.
Here’s what happened this time around. About two weeks ago, President Obama issued a relatively standard statement, marking Eid al-Fir, which is the celebration that occurs at the end of Ramadan, the holy Islamic month. In the statement, the President noted “[the] many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy.” To this, FitzSimmons responded:
As you can imagine, the offensive post generated a great deal of controversy. Many Virginia Republicans, including the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, called on FitzSimmons to resign from his post. Another Republican Delegate, David Ramadan, said that FitzSimmons is “not taken seriously” by Virginia Republicans. The issue was also used by Democrats, who called on the State GOP and Republican candidate for Senate, Ed Gillespie, to condemn the remarks.
Well, FitzSimmons finally has had enough and resigned as Treasurer of the Virginia GOP. In a statement, FitzSimmons said:
It seems that no matter how careful I might be, I will periodically give occasion for others to portray the party in a bad light, so long as I am a party official. After discussion with several party leaders it seems clear that I will either need to stop posting on social media or step down from my party office.
Obviously, FitzSimmons had issued multiple tasteless remarks and his resignation almost certainly a good thing for the Virginia Republican party. There’s a broader point here as well: when you are a member of an organization, and occupy a post of at least moderate visibility, stupid remarks have a broader impact than they would otherwise, and they reflect on more than just you.
This goes for every elected official. What the Democrats did with this story – using it to attack the Virginia GOP as a whole – is a pretty standard response, and one utilized by both parties whenever one of their members does something stupid.
This is a key point for elected and party officials to remember: Your words are no longer just your own.