West Virginia lawmaker resigns amid screenshots of anti-gay slurs
A West Virginia lawmaker has resigned amid allegations he posted anti-gay slurs and other offensive remarks on Facebook.
Republican House Delegate John Mandt Jr. claims the posts in a Facebook group called “The ‘Right’ Stuff” were fabricated but said in a statement late Saturday that it would be best for him to step down from office.
“Right now, my focus and priority needs to be on my family and business, and feel it is best at this time to terminate my campaign and make room [for] other individuals to serve the state,” Mandt said in a statement to House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw.
His resignation was effective late Saturday.
Screenshots from the Facebook group sent to the Herald-Dispatch show Mandt allegedly using anti-gay slurs in a thread, as well as making disparaging remarks about other delegates and the mayor of Huntington, the newspaper reported.
One of the alleged posts said, “silly f—-t, d–s are for chicks!”
Mandt also criticized other Republican lawmakers for being “sponsors of a queer bill” and called Huntington Mayor Stephen Williams a “douche,” according to civil advocacy group Fairness West Virginia.
“These screenshots of Del. John Mandt’s comments embarrass our state and hurt the reputation of the office he holds,” the group said in a statement Saturday prior to the lawmaker’s resignation. “John Mandt has finally shown us who he really is. It’s time for us to show him who West Virginians really are.”
Mandt, who owns and operates Stewarts Original Hot Dogs in West Virginia, is also accused of making anti-Muslim remarks in the thread. He claimed in a since-deleted statement early Saturday that they were fake and led to him getting death threats, the Herald-Dispatch reported.
“Everything electronic can be fabricated,” Mandt said. “It’s by design, my family, my business and I are being attacked.”
Jeffrey Ward, a city council candidate in Huntington, said Mandt’s messages were real, saying he was personally invited to the Facebook group by Mandt.
“At first this group spoke of issues in the community and occasionally had some locker-room humor,” Ward told the newspaper. “However, the rhetoric from Delegate Mandt and several members shifted to personal attacks, sophomoric remarks and were not issue driven and were beneath the dignity of his office — as such, I left the group in March of this year.”
Hanshaw acknowledged seeing the posts in a statement and said he had discussed the matter with Mandt, who denied writing them.
“I want to very clear: I strongly condemn these comments and this type of rhetoric,” Hanshaw said. “I don’t care who said it — it’s wrong and I want everyone to know there is no place for hatred or bigotry in our state, our political discourse or the West Virginia House of Delegates.”
Mandt, who was running for re-election in District 16, did not respond to messages from the Associated Press on Sunday. It’s unclear whether his name will remain on the ballot or if he can be replaced.
With Post wires
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