EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler Liked Racist Obama Meme, Retweeted Pizzagate Conspiracy Theorist: Report

Andrew Wheeler, the acting head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), previously liked a racist image of the Obamas on Facebook and retweeted and liked infamous conspiracy theorist Twitter accounts, it has been alleged.

Wheeler took over from Scott Pruitt in July after Pruitt resigned following a string of scandals and misconduct allegations.

Wheeler is alleged to have engaged in questionable and offensive social media conduct over the years in posts unearthed by the American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic political action committee, and reported by Huffington Post.

Among some of the controversial online activities was Wheeler's allegedly liking in 2013 a doctored Facebook image showing former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, enviously looking at a man holding a banana.

The image appeared on now deleted Facebook group Mia mamma è vergine, Italian for "My mom is a virgin," and which posts memes and videos. The Facebook page had also posted other images comparing the Obamas to apes, reports The Washington Post.

Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Huffington Post the image Wheeler liked was "blatantly racist."

Elsewhere, Wheeler was alleged to have retweeted and liked tweets from controversial figures including Jack Posobiec, the right-wing figurehead who helped spread the debunked "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory, which alleged influential Democrats including Hillary Clinton were connected to a child sex ring linked to a pizza restaurant in Washington.

Wheeler allegedly retweeted a post from Posobiec that featured a video of actor Bill Murray being interviewed by CNBC with the message "Bill Murray destroys Democrat identity politics."

Wheeler also allegedly liked a tweet from right-wing political commentator Dinesh D'Souza casting doubts on the sexual assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, and a tweet from Paul Joseph Watson, an editor at the Alex Jones conspiracy website InfoWars, talking about James Woods's temporary suspension from Twitter.

In a statement to the Huffington Post, Wheeler said he does not remember liking the image of the Obamas and that he is not always aware of the profiles of the people he retweets.

"Over the years, I have been a prolific social media user and liked and inadvertently liked countless social media posts," Wheeler said. "Specifically, I do not remember the post depicting President Obama and the First Lady. As for some of the other posts, I agreed with the content and was unaware of the sources."

Beirich described Wheeler's online conduct as "despicable. The people he's interacting with and retweeting are just not folks a legitimate person should have anything to do with."