Update: May 24, 2012, 5:35 PM
The ghost of Alabama’s segregationist former Gov. George Wallace brought trouble to the conservative stronghold of Orange County, Calif., this month and an anti-Muslim Republican is paying a political price for it.
It started last week when people complained about letters a local businessman sent out in support of Deborah Pauly, a local councilwoman and a leader in the Orange County GOP who drew nationwide attention last year when she helped lead an angry protest against Muslims with chants like “terrorists go home.” Pauly is now running for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
The letters, it turns out, weren’t like most other pitches for support that flood mailboxes each election year. They appeared on old letterhead from one of Wallace’s failed campaigns for president. The Los Angeles Times reported they carried an embossed portrait of the former Alabama governor and the slogan, “Wallace for President, Stand up for America.”
According to the Orange County Register, the letters were sent to 7,900 voters by businessman Robert Walters, 70, who identified himself as Wallace’s presidential campaign chairman in 1967. Wallace ran as an American Independent Party candidate in the 1968 race for president.
Both newspapers said Walters praised Pauly’s protests against Muslims in the letter and wrote: “We need Deborah Pauly and her brand of hard core limited government, fiscally-conservative positions on the County Board of Supervisors.” (Update: See letter at right. Click to enlarge.)
The businessman told the Register he, his wife and his daughter paid for the printing and mailing. He sent Pauly a copy of the letter as a courtesy but did not clear it with her.
Wallace served as the governor of Alabama during the civil rights era and advocated for racial segregation when he ran for president in 1968. He famously stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama in 1963 in an attempt to block black students from enrolling. Later in his political career, Wallace renounced his earlier segregationist views and apologize for them Wallace died in 1998.
Pauly is perhaps best known for the protest last year of the southern California fundraiser that featured Muslim speakers. Protesters shouted chants describing Muslims as perverts and terrorists, saying followers of the religion had blood on their hands. The protest, which drew about 100 people, was condemned by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
But Pauly has been at the center of other recent uproars, too. Last year, the Register reported, she defended a fellow Orange County Republican who sent out an email depicting President Obama as a chimpanzee.
In 2010, according to the L.A. Times, she also drew criticism after posting a message on her Facebook page that compared applauding the president’s health care reform plan to “applauding a mugging or a rape.”
On Monday, the Wallace letter became the final straw for the Orange County GOP. The party voted to remove her as vice-chair, according to the Times.
Pauly didn’t leave quietly, though. She told those who voted for her removal, “You are being used as political pawns in a game.”
But Scott Baugh, the chairman of the county party, said it was too late. “She makes statements out there that I’m constantly having to defend,” he said.
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him: nick [at] talkingpointsmemo.com