Wheeler: Racist anti-Obama meme 'absolutely offensive'

ESCALON, Calif. — Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said today that the racist post he "liked" on social media is "absolutely offensive."

The EPA chief has been under fire since HuffPost reported this week that Wheeler in 2013 had "liked" an image of former President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama looking at the hand of a white person holding a banana (Greenwire, Oct. 10).

When asked whether he regrets liking the post, Wheeler told reporters, "I don't remember doing it at all. I believe it was probably on accident.

"You know, 90 percent of my Facebook is done on my iPhone, just scrolling through it. It was not on purpose. I find it offensive. In fact, when I was shown the picture by my staff, I said, 'What the hell is this,' and they said, 'It's from your Facebook,' and I said, 'No, it's not.'"

Wheeler spoke to reporters at a park here after he held a roundtable event to discuss water issues with Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and local irrigators and tribal leaders. They discussed an upcoming state plan to increase water flows on several rivers that feed the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, including the Stanislaus River, which runs adjacent to the park.

At least one Democratic senator has called for Wheeler to resign over his social media activity.

"The head of a government agency has no place 'liking' racist memes or promoting the work of Pizzagate conspiracy theorists. If these are indeed Wheeler's actions, he should do the right thing for the @EPA and resign immediately," Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon wrote on Twitter this week.

Like what you see?

We thought you might.

Start a free trial now.

Get access to our comprehensive, daily coverage of energy and environmental politics and policy.