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Jon Fleischman

OC GOP Censures Marilyn Davenport, Sender of “Obama-Chimpanzee” E-mail

Yesterday I was one of fourteen members of the Executive Committee of the Orange County Republican Party that gathered at our headquarters to receive, review and weigh a OCRP Ethics Committee report on the matter of the e-mail sent by our colleague, Marilyn Davenport, that depicted the face of President Barack Obama over the body of a baby chimpanzee.  Also considered was Marilyn’s conduct since she forwarded around that image to a group of undisclosed recipients.

We met for some period of time, and because we were in closed session, I won’t go into detail about what specifically was said in the meeting.  But I will say that under the OCRP Bylaws, the strongest action that our Executive Committee could take in being critical of Davenport and her action was an “Ethics Censure” — and that is precisely what we did.    Below I will post up an official statement from the OCRP released by Chairman Scott Baugh.  Below that I will list out those Executive Committee members who voted for and against the ethics censure.  Finally I have some personal thoughts on this matter that I would like to share…


Republican Party of Orange County Executive Committee Censures Marilyn Davenport

The Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Orange County met today to receive, evaluate and rule on the report of the Ethics Committee regarding the investigation of Central Committee member Marilyn Davenport.  The investigation focused on Mrs. Davenport’s conduct before and after she sent an email on Friday, April 15, 2011, depicting President Obama as a baby chimpanzee.

The Executive  Committee voted 12-2 to issue an Ethics Censure to Marilyn Davenport.  The censure was based on the finding that Mrs. Davenport was aware the email in question could be viewed as offensive. Then, instead of owning up to her mistake and putting an end to the story, Mrs. Davenport immediately sought to blame others and downplay the matter as a joke. The Committee also found that Mrs. Davenport’s first apology was not contrite in that it was conditional and blamed others.  And, while her second apology was viewed as sincere, the three day delay in issuing that apology resulted in a torrential barrage of unnecessary negative media attention.  Finally, the Committee found that much of the good that was accomplished by Mrs. Davenport’s second apology was undone by going on a media tour that continued to blame others for her actions.

The Republican Party of Orange County condemns racism in any form and this censure is consistent with that position.

Voting to apply an Ethics Censure to Davenport were Scott Baugh, Charles Black, John Brantuk, Mark Bucher, Norm Dickinson, Jon Fleischman, Ray Grangoff, Matt Harper, Kermit Marsh, Pat Shuff, John Warner and Mary Young.  Voting against the motion to censure Davenport were Deb Pauly and Zonya Townsend.

It should be very clear that Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the OCRP, does not enjoy the support of her colleagues in forwarding around racist images of a black man’s face on a monkey.  While I was not an original recipient of the Davenport e-mail, I subsequently saw it and, well, it made me angry.  Both because of the racist message of the image, but also knowing of the public relations nightmare associated with it — and the time consuming and laborious process involved with making sure that everyone knows that Davenport’s action was not reflective of our party.  This strong action by the Executive Committee will hopefully be a poignant exclamation point at the end of an ugly incident, and we need to put this issue behind us.

I will say that very quickly Chairman Scott Baugh condemned Davenport’s e-mail, and in fact called for Davenport to resign from the committee.  I am proud to have Scott Baugh as our Chairman — and thought he was right-on in his response to Davenport’s action.   So I will end this blog post by joining him in calling on Davenport to resign.  I believe going forward that Davenport will always be “the GOP official who sent the racist e-mail” and that if Davenport wants to do what is best for her party, she will step down and allow someone else to be appointed in her place.