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Author of racist Facebook post apologizes (sort of) but won't quit Pasco GOP

Bill Akins didn't have a good weekend.

He made national news by getting shouted down at a congressional town hall meeting when he said "death panels'' were part of the Affordable Care Act, a claim that was debunked and named PolitiFact's 2009 Lie of the Year. He called his political adversaries "children.'' They called him a liar.

It went downhill from there. Facebook scrubbed his update wall after the Washington Post revealed his posts to be filled with racist and fake news stories and memes. One compared African-Americans to monkeys. Another repeated the conspiracy theory of passenger jet airlines spraying chemicals to kill the elderly.

Facebook via Washington Post

Black rioters can be compared to monkeys.

That wasn't the only mention of death. People threatened Akins' life.

"The good news is that I'm on your 'death panel!' All I can suggest is that you don't get any hangnails,'' someone wrote on his Facebook page.

Akins, the secretary of the Pasco Republican Executive Committee, also got a talking to from party Chairman Randy Evans. He feared Akins had embarrassed U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, the host of the town hall meeting.

Evans also issued a statement on behalf of the local party apologizing to Bilirakis "for any harm or discredit caused by statements'' from Akins. But Evans said he won't be asking for Akins to resign from his unpaid position.

"I hope that this is teaching moment," Evans said in the statement. "Additionally, as a Christian, I believe in forgiveness. I forgive Mr. Akins for mistakenly misrepresenting (the party) and any harm or discredit this incident has caused Rep. Bilirakis."

Akins said he is not sorry that he attended Bilirakis' session in New Port Richey Saturday morning, nor that he tried to make a point about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which he characterized as a "death panel.''

The board, known by the acronym IPAB, is a 15-person panel that must recommend to Congress how to slow the rate of Medicare spending increases. The federal health care law, however, states IPAB is forbidden from submitting "any recommendation to ration health care,'' according to a 2011 PolitiFact ruling.

Akins believes otherwise and cited a June 2015 Washington Times headline as part of his rationalization. But, the newspaper account of Congress voting to repeal the IPAB clearly states it is the opponents of the law who characterize the board as a "death panel.''

That debate aside, Akins on Monday offered multiple qualified apologies.

"I'm sorry if I offended anyone's sensibilities, but we need to sit down and act like adults and work for solutions rather than booing, jeering and catcalling,'' he said about labeling most of the 250 people in the room children.

And his Facebook posts?

"If I offended anybody by anything that they may have read, I'm sorry, but I am entitled to my opinion just as anyone else is.''

He declined to address the specific content of the posts, as did Evans.

Akins said he is sorry if anyone thought he was speaking on behalf of the Republican Party or the Pasco Republican Executive Committee. He said he was speaking as a private citizen.

"It was probably a mistake for me to even mention that'' GOP affiliation, he said.

Evans concurred saying "statements by Mr. Akins are not the official comments of the Republican Party of Pasco, I have counseled Mr. Akins that he is not the official voice of the Republican Party of Pasco. Mr. Akins indicated he fully understands and will comply from this day forward.''

Evans said he did not ask Akins to resign. Akins, 63, described himself as a semi-retired entrepreneur, an ordained minister, and a former U.S. Marine. He said he is a native of Tampa and moved to Hudson in western Pasco County in 2000.

He said if he had been allowed to finish his statement Saturday, he would have asked Bilirakis if the IPAB would be part of any Republican-authored health care legislation to replace Obamacare.

"I tried to get my point out and it failed, unfortunately,'' he said.

Contact C.T. Bowen at ctbowen@tampabay.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow@CTBowen2

Facebook via Washington Post

Black rioters can be compared to monkeys.

Facebook via Washington Post

"Chemtrails" left by airplanes are a public health risk.

Facebook via Washington Post

Hillary Clinton murdered her political opponents.

Facebook via Washington Post

Antonin Scalia might have been murdered.

Facebook via Washington Post

Saudi Arabia funded Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

Facebook via Washington Post

Nancy Pelosi is mentally handicapped.

Facebook via Washington Post

Former president Barack Obama was foreign-born and Muslim.

Facebook via Washington Post

The left is engendering hatred against white people.

Facebook via Washington Post

"Climate change" is a globalist hoax.

Facebook via Washington Post

President Trump's inauguration crowd was bigger than photos portrayed.

Facebook via Washington Post

Muslims can't claim racial discrimination.

Facebook via Washington Post

Contact C.T. Bowen at ctbowen@tampabay.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow@CTBowen2

Bill Akins of Hudson (in yellow tie) is encouraged by U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis to let another audience member speak during a town hall meeting at the West Pasco Government Center on Saturday in New Port Richey. [Brendan Fitterer | Special to the Times]

Bill Akins of Hudson (in yellow tie) is encouraged by U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis to let another audience member speak during a town hall meeting at the West Pasco Government Center on Saturday in New Port Richey. [Brendan Fitterer | Special to the Times]

Author of racist Facebook post apologizes (sort of) but won't quit Pasco GOP 02/13/17 [Last modified: Monday, February 13, 2017 6:43pm]
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