Clay official loses job over racist Facebook post about Michelle Obama

An official at a Clay County agency lost her job Monday after publishing a racist Facebook post criticizing first lady Michelle Obama.

The mayor of Clay also was strongly criticized for commenting in approval of the post.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, an employee of the Clay Development Corporation, referred to the first lady as an “ape in heels” in the Facebook post. A person who answered the phone at the Clay Development Corporation said Monday afternoon that Taylor has been removed from her post, but refused to comment further.

Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling commented on the post soon after, saying, “Just made my day Pam.”

Neither Taylor nor Whaling could be reached for comment Monday. Their Facebook pages have been deleted.

The Clay Development Corporation is not affiliated with the city of Clay, said Clay Town Councilman Jason Hubbard. He said the controversy would be addressed at a previously scheduled town council meeting at 5 p.m. today.

West Virginia state code says a municipal officer can be removed from office only if he or she has participated in official misconduct, neglect of duty or incompetence.

Joe Murphy, vice chairman of the Clay Democratic Executive Committee, said he was disappointed when he heard about the post. Murphy said Michelle Obama is one of the most graceful and articulate first ladies in American history.

“While we respect Ms. Taylor’s right to free speech, we strongly oppose any form of racism or hate speech,” Murphy said. “We fully support our president and the first lady.”

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Belinda Biafore offered an apology to Obama for the comments.

“On behalf of my fellow Mountaineers I would like extend my sincerest apologies to first lady Michelle Obama,” Biafore said in an emailed statement. “West Virginia truly is better than this. These radical, hateful, and racist ideals are exactly what we at the West Virginia Democratic Party will continue to fight against. These words and actions do not represent West Virginia values.

“We will continue to fight for a West Virginia that is inclusive, not divisive and a home for all to feel safe, welcome, and protected. In a time when we are at a crossroads and many fear the future we must stand together against hate of all forms.”

An online petition calling for both women to be ousted for the racist post and the comment was started over the weekend. About 9,000 people had signed the petition, as of Monday afternoon. Clay has a population of 648, according to 2013 statistics from the U.S. Census.

A petition for a recall of Whaling would require signatures from registered voters within the city.

Reach Ali Schmitz at ali.schmitz@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4843 or follow @SchmitzMedia on Twitter.

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