TAMPA — Florida Republican chairman Jim Greer said Wednesday that longtime Hillsborough state committeewoman Carol Carter may lose her position because of the racial joke she forwarded in an e-mail.
"Carol Carter has been a hard-working, loyal Republican for many years, but this action I have no tolerance for, regardless of the circumstances or intent," a furious Greer said of Carter's e-mail.
Concerning her future, Greer said, "I am currently considering all options, including my authority to remove her from the office of state committeewoman."
The e-mail read:
From: Carol Carter
Friday, January 30, 9:30 AM
Subject: FW: Amazing!
How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, DC in 1 day in sub zero temps when 200,000 couldn't get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice?
Later she sent out a second e-mail that read:
From: Carol Carter
January 30, 5:54 PM
Subject: Earlier e-mail
I have been asked to send this apology for my earlier e-mail. I am sorry that it was received in a negative manner. I do hope that we are going to be allowed to keep our sense of humor.
As you can now see, it went to very few people. I did add Todd Marks in this apology, as he is in the mix now. I am also sorry to learn that some of these persons are not real team players. There really was no reason for this to go beyond those that I e-mailed (8 people). This was not an e-mail blast as I do not have that capability.
"I'm pretty much done with those sorts of inappropriate and, and — I am at a loss for words," Greer said. "I just came back from Washington, D.C., working to get our first African-American elected as (Republican National Committee) chairman. It's one thing to have a person express their thoughts and humor. It's another to have a leader of the Republican Party. I'm just done with it."
Carter did not return a telephone message seeking comment.
Hillsborough has been a magnet for racially charged controversies in the Republican Party in recent months. Former county chairman David Storck was roundly criticized for forwarding an e-mail lamenting the many blacks voting early in the presidential election, and former state party finance chairman Al Austin apologized for forwarding an e-mail joke referring to the assassination of Obama.
Storck's successor, Deborah Cox-Roush, said local and state party officials are investigating the actions of Carter, whom she calls a die-hard, hard-working Republican.
She said she has spoken to Carter, and she was very apologetic.
Cox-Roush has called a board meeting but said nothing could be determined Wednesday.
"We are moving forward, and the Republican Party does not tolerate any kind of racist remarks of this kind."
Others in the party sounded just as flummoxed.
"I just saw Carol last Tuesday, and we had a good conversation," said Curtis Stokes, president of the Hillsborough County NAACP and a prominent Republican. "Never in a million years would I think she would forward something like this."
Stokes said he started getting angry phone calls about Carter early Wednesday morning but didn't learn the content of the e-mail until later that night.
"That kind of behavior has no place in the modern day Republican Party," Stokes said.
Hillsborough Democratic Party chairwoman Pat Kemp said she was surprised at the "utterly ugly" commentary.
"I think obviously she really has to look at herself, and people who would say such a thing really need to look deep at their prejudices and racism," Kemp said Wednesday night. "We aware that this exists, but it doesn't usually hit us in the face so hard. It's just so sad."
Times staff writer Janet Zink contributed to this report.