Former South Carolina Election Commission Chairman and Republican activist Rusty DePass formally apologized Wednesday for his internet posting that said that the gorilla that briefly escaped Friday from an exhibit at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia was an ancestor of First Lady Michelle Obama. DePass read his apologetic statement during an NAACP news conference in Columbia. DePass was accompanied at the news conference by South Carolina NAACP president Lonnie Randolph. DePass says his posting on Facebook was clearly out of line.
“I am here today for one purpose and that is to apologize in such a way that there can be no misunderstanding. When I was asked about this on Friday I apologized for it. I am truly sorry for any offense that I have caused. My remark was clearly inappropriate and I apologize for writing it.”
On Friday after news of the gorilla’s escape spread, DePass posted on Facebook: “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors, probably harmless.”
DePass says they he has also sent correspondence to the First Lady apologizing for the web posting. “I have written a letter of apology to Mrs. Obama and I have given Lonnie a copy of that letter though I have made no effort to make it public. My comment was offensive and a flippant remark made without thinking. It was wrong, it was foolish and I deeply regret it and any pain it has produced.”
DePass says he understands that he has brought shame not only to himself. “I have embarrassed myself, as well as my friends and associates, and members of my family. All I can do is ask you to forgive me.”