'I am not a racist:' Orange County Republican leader blames hacker for insensitive meme

Kathy Gibson says she didn't make post about Andrew Gillum

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - An Orange County Republican Party leader is defending her name after she claims someone hacked into her Facebook page and posted what many people are calling an insensitive and racially charged meme.

Kathy Gibson, the chair of the Orange County Republican Party State Committee, told News 6 she didn’t make the post and she’s not a racist. Gibson said she believes the whole thing may be political.

Her committee works to recruit and retain GOP voters. 

After the Facebook post, many local and state leaders are calling for her resignation. 

"My response is that my Facebook account was hacked. I am not a racist. I never have been," Gibson said.

The meme falsely claimed that Andrew Gillum, the first black nominee for governor in Florida, wanted blacks to be "paid back" because of slavery. Gibson said it’s an election year and she feels the person who she says hacked her page was targeting her.

"You know I have enemies," Gibson said. "After I won, there’s been one particular person who has tried to paint me as a forever Trumper, as someone who is racist and hateful or whatever." 

In addition to the local, state and national leaders calling for Gibson’s resignation, both nominees for governor agree the post was not appropriate. 

Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, said in a statement that, “This race should be about the issues. This shouldn’t be about the mayor’s skin color. This race should be about red tide. This race should be about toxic blue-green algae. This race should be about citrus greening. And it should be about real green dollar bills that should be going into people’s pockets." 

In a statement to Politico, Republican nominee for governor Ron DeSantis said, "Kathy Gibson should resign, and so should anyone else that subscribes to this sort of disgusting thinking. This campaign is about issues and creating a better Florida for everyone. That’s what Floridians care about, and that’s what we’ll continue to focus on.”

Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill said the post made her mad.

"It angered me because I don’t think that kind of rhetoric and divisiveness is needed in Orlando, Orange County or the nation," Hill said. 

Gibson said she changed her passwords on Facebook after she was hacked and said no one has called her to ask for her resignation.

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