GOP Board Member Resigns After Sharing Image Comparing Governor's Mask Mandate to Holocaust

A GOP board member in Wabasha County, Minnesota, resigned this week after posting an image on the local Republican Party Facebook page that compared Minnesota Governor Tim Walz's mask mandate to the Holocaust.

Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan of the Republican Party of Minnesota confirmed the board member's resignation in a tweet on Tuesday. Carnahan previously said the party believed the Facebook page was hacked after Jewish Community Action (JCA) brought the post to their attention on Monday.

"The offensive picture was posted by a board member who has resigned effective immediately at the our [sic] request," Carnahan's tweet said.

"We are saddened by the vitriolic post and hope as we move forward that Republicans and Democrats alike will maintain the highest level of integrity, respect, and sensitivity," Carnahan said in a second tweet. "The Wabasha County Board and MN GOP apologizes for this disappointing post."

The Wabasha County GOP's Facebook page was removed as a result of the incident, Carnahan said.

Before the party took the page down, the JCA took a screenshot of the image and posted it on the JCA's Twitter page. The photo shows a man in a Nazi uniform standing next to an older man wearing a Star of David on his jacket.

Given that Minnesota rabbis recently spoke out in favor of a mask mandate, comparing that mandate to the Holocaust feels especially disgusting. We ask the @MNGOP to tell Wabasha Republicans to stop using imagery like this. It betrays a total lack of both empathy and education.

— Jewish Community Action (@JCA_MN) July 27, 2020

"Just put on the star and quit complaining, it's really not that hard," a caption above the photo says. Beneath the photo, another line of text says, "Just put on the mask and stop complaining."

"Given that Minnesota rabbis recently spoke out in favor of a mask mandate, comparing that mandate to the Holocaust feels especially disgusting," the JCA said in a tweet accompanying the screenshot. The organization called upon the Republican Party of Minnesota to instruct the county GOP to halt its use of images that the JCA said "betrays a total lack of both empathy and education."

The JCA told Newsweek it wanted the GOP leaders to "take these matters seriously" from the beginning if an incident like this comes up again.

"We're glad to know that the party member responsible for the post has been held accountable and are hopeful that in the future, Chair Carnahan and other MNGOP officials will take these matters seriously and do the work to repair the damage done before jumping to implausible denials that only cause further harm," JCA Executive Director Carin Mrotz said.

N-95 mask
A man holds up an N95 mask in the ER at Oakbend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas, on July 15, 2020. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced a statewide mask mandate last week. MARK FELIX/AFP via Getty Images

Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended all Americans wear masks to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus in April, most governors did not begin introducing statewide mandates requiring masks in public spaces until COVID-19 cases were on the rise across the country in June.

Walz announced his state's mask mandate last week, and some Minnesotans have already expressed their displeasure with the requirement, including a couple who wore Nazi face coverings inside a Marshall, Minnesota, Walmart in protest. "If you vote for Biden, you're going to be living in Nazi Germany," a woman wearing one of the swastika face coverings can be heard saying in a video taken of the incident.

According to the GOP chairwoman, the Nazi comparisons do not represent the views of the state's Republican Party.

"Our party does not support/condone divisive and harmful posts or language of this nature," Carnahan said on Twitter after first learning of the Wabasha County's Facebook post.

Updated 5:31 p.m. ET on July 28: This article has been updated to include a response from Jewish Community Action.