Top Democrat: McConnell should condemn Paul's 'Southern Avenger'


by Joe Arnold

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 10 at 5:39 PM

Updated with reaction from the Mitch McConnell campaign

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Kentucky Democratic Chairman Dan Logsdon is calling on U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell to condemn "the Southern Avenger," a staffer for fellow Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

McConnell's campaign responded Wednesday afternoon by skewering Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes for not condemning racially tinged tweets from a liberal Super PAC.

A story in the Washington Free Beacon revealed that Paul's new media director, Jack Hunter, has advocated Southern secession and once praised Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.

In a previous talk radio job, Hunter's "Southern Avenger" character wore a Confederate flag mask.

“Senator McConnell likes Republicans to call him leader, and he has made himself heard on every issue he deems of consequence, real and imagined,” Logsdon said. “I urge him to exercise some real leadership and condemn the inflammatory and hateful influences within his ranks and to take steps to rid his party of this extremist bigotry."

“This is an embarrassment for Kentucky, and his silence leaves people with the impression that he condones this outrageous behavior.”

The Free Beacon revealed several racially provocative comments in articles written by Hunter, who was a member of the League of the South, a pro-Southern independence group, before working for Paul.

"Not only are whites not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity – but anything that is considered 'too white' is immediately suspect," Hunter wrote in 2004. "The term 'diversity' has become nothing more than a code word for 'not white,' and it's a shame that just because we have fair skin, we are always denied fair treatment."

"Sen. Paul holds his staff to a standard that includes treating every individual with equal protection and respect, without exception," Paul's communication's director Moira Bagley told CNN.

Hunter blasted the Free Beacon article in a statement on his Southern Avenger website that distanced him from his previous remarks.

"The role of a radio host is different from that of a political operative," Hunter wrote.  "In radio, sometimes you’re encouraged to be provocative and inflammatory. I’ve been guilty of both, and am embarrassed by some of the comments I made precisely because they do not represent me today. I was embarrassed by some of them even then."

"I am also no longer a guy who judges beer drinking contests in a wrestling mask. Things change. We all hopefully grow up," Hunter continued.  "I abhor racism and have always treated everyone I’ve met with dignity and respect as individuals. This was true in the past and it is true now."

The comments come as Paul, a prospective 2016 presidential candidate, has made a concerted effort to reach out to African-Americans and has called for Republicans to broaden the party's appeal to minorities.

Hunter helped Paul write Paul's book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington.

“Paula Deen's sponsors dropped her without a second thought for this kind of nonsense,” Logsdon said. “It’s a sad day when the cable channels and drug companies show more class and leadership than Kentucky’s Senators.”

The McConnell U.S. Senate campaign released a statement early Wednesday afternoon.

“If Dan Logsdon would look up from the disaster that is Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign long enough to notice he would see that Rand Paul has done more to reach out to African American and Hispanic communities in the past six months than Logsdon has done his entire career,"   the Team Mitch statement read. 

"We would hope everyone agrees that racism has no place in politics, which is why it was particularly disappointing that Secretary Grimes failed to condemn a liberal Super PAC’s racist tweets targeting Senator McConnell’s wife,” the statement continued.

In February, the Progress Kentucky Super PAC released several messages on Twitter suggesting McConnell was influenced by his wife's Taiwanese heritage.