A racist image was removed from the Patrick County Republican Committee’s website on Friday.
The image depicted the Republican Party mascot, the elephant, with three Ku Klux Klan (KKK) hoods with black slits creating eyeholes in the triangular negative spaces in the spaces between the elephant’s legs.
Lynne Bogle, chairman of the local GOP committee, said she is horrified that the “disgusting imagery” appeared on the website. “We are still looking for additional information, but it appears the image may have been placed maliciously by an outside actor.”
Since the image was removed Friday, Bogle said the password for the website has been reset and two-part verification was set up to help minimize the risk of future intrusions. She is the only person with the new password.
“We are reviewing our options to determine a feasible path forward for investigation, including the possibility of a forensic audit,” she said, and added that some people have offered to help fund such an audit.
A decision will be discussed by the committee’s leaders in the coming days.
“I’m deeply troubled that this could happen. It is inexcusable. I will do everything I can to ensure that the website is closely monitored and there is no possibility of this being repeated,” she said.
Del. Wren Williams, R-Stuart, formerly served as the committee chairman.
He also condemned the imagery and said the logo was extremely offensive.
“This type of abhorrent imagery has no place in our Patrick County community. I cannot overstate how strongly I stand against this,” Williams said.
As soon as he was made aware of the image, Williams said he called the committee personally to ask them to remove the image.
“They assured me it was a mistake, and it is my understanding that they have completely removed the logo,” he said.
It is unclear how long the image was on the website or from where it originated. Once removed, it was replaced with an image of the seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Del. Marie March, R-Floyd, who is in a contentious battle with Williams for the new 47th District seat, did not respond to requests for comment from The Enterprise.
However, according to online reports, March said she was made aware of the image by a constituent’s email.
“When my team tried to attend a meeting there, they were yelled at and not welcome. We are certainly reporting it to the RPV (Republican Party of Virginia),” according to the online report.
March said Williams should bear some responsibility in the matter.
She also called for Bogle to step down from her position as chair.
In the past, the two women were involved in social media debates.
“That is a question for the Patrick County Republican Committee,” Bogle said.