"When you first called me," Baugh said, referring to our conversation on April 15, the day I broke the story, "what was I supposed to do? Cover it up? Lie to you? Tell you it wasn't racist? No! I took the only appropriate, credible action I could have. I immediately denounced it to you as dripping with racism and I am still confident that I did the right thing."
Baugh insisted to me that he did not share Davenport's email with Mike Schroeder, who has taken responsibility for leaking the image to the press. He also said he expects the party's ethics committee to meet this weekend to discuss Davenport. The worst they can do? Censure her.
UPDATE, APRIL 20, 3:30 P.M.: Marilyn Davenport tells John and Ken on KFI in a live interview that she sent the racist email against President Obama "strictly as a joke type thing." She said she "does not think in racist terms." According to Davenport, she "doesn't look at Obama as a black person," she only looks at his policies. She went on to say that she doesn't think her own race is superior to any other race and that she has never discriminated against people of another race. With the aid of fellow conservative OC activist Tim Whitacre, she did say that she feels "betrayed" by OC GOP boss Scott Baugh and Mike Schroeder, both of whom have expressed a zero-tolerance stance against Davenport's actions. Whitacre said Baugh and Schroeder had "repulsed and disgusted" him. John and Ken say they will go into hostile overdrive if Reverend Al Sharpton, whom they loathe, follows up on an alleged threat to protest Davenport in Fullerton in coming days.
UPDATE, APRIL 18, 5:58 P.M.: Marilyn Davenport speaks! We have the exclusive interview here
UPDATE, APRIL 17, 3:40 P.M.: Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh determined today that his group's bylaws prevent a vote to remove Marilyn Davenport as an elected member even though she emailed a racist image of President Barack Obama to fellow Tea Baggers and Republicans.
The most drastic action the party can take is a censure, he said. Meanwhile, Davenport refuses to resign and Baugh continues to seek an apology and her voluntary resignation from the central committee.
UPDATE, APRIL 16, 5:55 P.M.: This afternoon, Marilyn Davenport sent an email to fellow Orange County Republican elected officials, apologizing if anyone was offended by her depicting President Barack Obama as an ape--while also blasting the "liberal media" for reporting the story.
"I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth," Davenport wrote. "In no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email. In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people [Scott Baugh, Orange County GOP boss, and this writer] tried to make this about race. . . . I received plenty of emails aboutGeorge Bush
that I didn't particularly like yet there was no 'cry' in the media about them."
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(Davenport's entire statement is at the end of this article.)
Tim Whitacre, a longtime conservative Orange County Republican activist in Santa Ana, defended Davenport: "Marilyn Davenport is a staunch, ethical Republican lady. There is nothing unethical about this from a party standpoint because it wasn't sent out to the party at large with any racist statements and it wasn't signed as a central committee member. As a private individual, she is just real big on Birther stuff. One of her passions that drives her is the president's lack of forthrightness about where he was born. Marilyn believes that nobody knows where he was born and so this picture says a thousand words."
Whitacre continued: "She is not a perfect lady, but she is no racist. She is a gentle person who would feed you, help you, be there for you if you were in trouble. She is known as a pleasant, loving person, and it kills me that she is being attacked by this non-story knowing her mindset."
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 15, 5 P.M.: Orange County might be a beautiful oceanfront locale, but it's also home to Holocaust deniers, vicious anti-gay bigots and freakish big-haired televangelists.
The Weekly has obtained a copy of an email sent to fellow conservatives this week by Marilyn Davenport, a Southern California Tea Party activist and member of the central committee of the Orange County Republican Party.
(Donald Trump must be elated to finally have an explanation about Obama's true birth circumstances.)
Another GOP official, who also asked not to be identified, said that Davenport is "a really, really sweet old lady so I am surprised to hear about this."
"This is a three strikes situation for Marilyn Davenport," Schroeder said. "She was a passionate defender of former Newport Beach City Councilman Dick Nichols, who stated that he was voting against putting in more grass at Corona del Mar's beach because, he said, there were already 'too many Mexicans on the beach.' She was also on the wrong side of the fence with the Los Alamitos mayor and his White House watermelon patch picture. Now, she has managed to top both of those incidents by comparing African Americans to monkeys. She has disgraced herself and needs to resign. If she doesn't, the Republican Party must remove her."
But Davenport does not appear ready to concede she has made a mistake. After this story was published, she sent another email to fellow California conservative activists. It demanded to know the identity of "the coward" who supplied me with a copy of her offensive email.
Several Los Angeles television news broadcasts are planning coverage of this story tonight
(Update: KCAL and KCBS reported during their respective 10 and 11 p.m. broadcasts that in a telephone interview Davenport blamed the media for this controversy and slammed down the phone.)
As a member of the local Republican central committee, Davenport represents an inland section of Orange County: Fullerton, Brea, La Habra, Placentia and, home of the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Birthplace & Library, Yorba Linda.
In February 2009, Los Alamitos Mayor Dean Grose, another Orange County Republican, emailed the White House watermelon image and then apologized.
Orange County is also home to Orly Taitz, the Soviet Union-born dentist who lives in Laguna Niguel and is one of the world's leading proponents of claims that Obama is killing homosexuals tied to his old Chicago church, was born in Kenya, is personally funding Hamas terrorists and ordered a secret agent to break into her vehicle.
Alas, if you really want to be disturbed, read THIS RECENT RELATED STORY by my colleague Gustavo Arellano.
Just two percent of Orange County's 3 million population is African American.
(This is a copy of Davenport's entire 12:24 p.m. Saturday email to other OC Republican leaders: "I'm sorry if my email offended anyone. I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth. In no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email. In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race. We all know a double standard applies regarding this president. I received plenty of emails about George Bush that I didn't particularly like yet there was no 'cry' in the media about them. One only has to go to Youtube or Google Images to see a plethora or lampooning videos and pictures of Obama, Bush and other politicians. That being said, I will NOT resign my central committee position over this matter that the average person knows and agrees is much to do about nothing. Again, for those select few who might be truly offended by viewing a copy of an email I sent to a select list of friends and acquaintances, unlike the liberal left when they do the same, I offer my sincere apologies to you--the email was not meant for you. For any of my friends or acquaintances who were the recipients of my email and were truly offended, please call me so I may offer a sincere verbal apology to you.")
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Read Moxley's latest coverage of the controversial federal bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral's Reverend Robert Schuller and his national "Hour of Power" broadcast HERE.