By Patrick Svitek, Texas Tribune
Gov. Greg Abbott and other top Texas Republicans are calling for the resignation of the GOP chair in one of the state’s biggest counties after she floated a conspiracy theory about the death of George Floyd.
In a since-deleted Facebook post from this week, Bexar County Chairwoman Cynthia Brehm asked for her friends’ thoughts on a theory that Floyd’s death was a “staged event,” apparently to gin up opposition to President Donald Trump. There is no evidence to support that claim; Floyd, a black Minnesota man, died last week after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“These comments are disgusting and have no place in the Republican Party or in public discourse,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said in a statement Thursday morning. “Cynthia Brehm should immediately resign her position as Chair of the Bexar County Republican Party.”
In the post on Facebook, Brehm described the situation in which Floyd died as the “possibility” that “this was a filmed public execution” for the “purpose of creating racial tensions.” She also cited the “rising approval rating of President Trump in the black community” as a reason for why “an event like this was unfortunately predictable.”
Shortly after Wittman’s statement, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s campaign said he believes Brehm should resign as well. On Thursday afternoon, the state party chairman, James Dickey, added his voice to the chorus, saying he has “personally reached out to Cynthia Brehm and called on her to resign.” And a short time later, Texas’ other U.S. senator, Ted Cruz, said Brehm should step down.
Brehm did not immediately respond to request for comment for this story.
Brehm has been a lightning rod since she took over the party in Bexar County, home to San Antonio, in 2018. She made headlines last month for declaring the new coronavirus a hoax pushed by Democrats.
Her Facebook post about Floyd began receiving wide attention Wednesday after Gilbert Garcia, columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, posted a screenshot of it on Twitter. He later said he had taken the screenshot from her Facebook page Wednesday morning and it was apparently deleted that afternoon.
Garcia’s tweet prompted U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, whose district includes Bexar County, to call for Brehm to step down immediately. The other Republican who represents Bexar County in the U.S. House, Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes, said he agreed Brehm should resign after Abbott’s call Thursday.
State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, who represents Bexar County as well, also pressured Brehm to resign on Thursday afternoon. Campbell tweeted that the conspiracy theory about Floyd is “one of the most misguided and ignorant statements I have ever heard.”
The Texas Democratic Party said Wednesday evening that Abbott and other Texas Republicans should ask for Brehm’s resignation.
“Cynthia Brehm’s comments are flat out wrong and dangerous,” party spokesman Abhi Rahman said in a statement. “Enough is enough.”
Democrats had also called on Republicans to denounce Brehm’s comments last month about the coronavirus crisis, which she said “has been promulgated by the Democrats to undo all of the good that President Trump has done for our country.” The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had specifically called on Roy and two other San Antonio-area GOP candidates to condemn those remarks.
Roy’s chief of staff, Joseph Wade Miller, said Wednesday evening he was unaware of Brehm’s coronavirus comments and the Democratic calls to denounce them. “Just another reason why she should resign though,” he tweeted.
“Coronavirus clearly isn’t a hoax,” Miller told The Texas Tribune on Thursday. “It’s a very serious public health problem.”