A county Republican Party chairman in Ohio is facing calls for his resignation after he posted an image on Facebook claiming that God is punishing liberals by causing deadly wildfires in California.
> The image, posted by Columbiana County GOP Chairman Dave Johnson on Sunday, read, “Hell on Earth, brought to you by the Liberals in California!” It also contained smaller writing in the upper left-hand corner that said, “Welcome to Hell! God’s punishment to Liberal California.” The image featured a background image of a burning forest.
Johnson has since deleted the post, but Democrats immediately called for his resignation:
> “I think his demented comments disqualify him from holding positions of public trust,” neighboring Mahoning County's Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said on Facebook. “He should, therefore, immediately resign from all the public positions he holds.”
> “Johnson owes the victims, their families and the heroes who fought the fire and participated in rescue efforts an apology,” Betras said.
But Johnson is resisting demands that he resign, defending the post on Monday as merely employing a “figure of speech.”
> He said the post was made after reading an article and because of his feelings that California Democrats had mismanaged the state. In a statement to the local Ohio newspaper The Vindicator, Johnson said Betras was exploiting the point of the image “to cover his miserable performance in the last election.”
> Johnson said the intent of the post was “in the eyes of the beholder,” and that if he “offended anyone that had a loss of life, then I’m sorry.”
> “Look, that’s a meme,” Johnson told Cleveland.com of his posted image. “And it’s how I feel about liberals, but did I mean that God is going to punish everyone who lives in California? No. It’s a figure of speech, and I probably shouldn’t have done it. But I did, and it doesn’t change how I feel about what’s happened in California.”
The fire currently raging across California has killed at least 79 people — with several hundred more still missing — and damaged thousands of homes and businesses.