ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Two Bernalillo County GOP leaders are under fire for what one acknowledges were inappropriate and degrading comments made on social media about women testifying for a minimum wage hike.
In postings made during a Tuesday night county commission meeting, a Twitter comment from the account of Bernalillo County Republican Executive Director Steve Kush referred to a volunteer who was testifying on behalf of Working America as a "radical (expletive.)"
Then, as that same group's director, Chelsey Evans, waited to testify, there was a comment from Kush's Facebook account that said, "Uh oh another Working America chick.nice boots."
Bob Cornelius, the county party's former executive director, replied, "Maybe she used those shoes to walk Central." a reference to a street in Albuquerque known for prostitution.
A follow-up post from Kush's account said the woman was "hot enough to almost make me register democrat."
The comments were circulated Wednesday by the liberal-leaning ProgressNow, which criticized the party for attacking hard-working women.
"If the Republican Party wants to know why they have such a hard time connecting with young women, they should start by examining the very public way their leaders feel about young working women," Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, said in a press release. "Mr. Kush, Mr. Cornelius and the Republican Party owe these particular women an apology as public as the forum where they chose to attack them."
Reached on Wednesday, Cornelius verified his participation in the exchange, most of which was still on Kush's page Wednesday. Cornelius said he was not at the meeting and did not know Evans, but that he had reached out to her first thing Wednesday morning and apologized for what he called inappropriate, unfair and degrading comments.
His Facebook post on Kush's page had also been replaced Wednesday morning with an apology.
"I've been thinking about my comment last night. I did make that comment in jest & I do apologize to this lady for this off color comment," the updated post reads. "It's not fair to her, and it was inappropriate for me to makes comments like that."
Kush did not immediately respond to emails or phone calls seeking comment.
Evans said she was disappointed by the attacks.
"Comments like those have no place in public discourse," she said in an email, noting she had received an apology "from one offending party" and accepted it.
"Despite these degrading comments," she wrote, "we are focused on celebrating a victory in Bernalillo County for all of working families, and we applaud all the hard work by our members, organizers and activists, and we will continue to push this effort statewide."
The commission voted 3-2 to raise the minimum wage in the county's unincorporated areas to $8.50 an hour, matching the wage approved by Albuquerque voters in November.
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