Even as Republicans like John Kasich, Rob Portman and Mike Turner call on President Donald Trump to clearly denounce white supremacists, state Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, took to Facebook this week to criticize efforts to remove Confederate monuments.
“There is a statue of Bill Clinton in Arkansas. A man who obviously glorified adultery and perjury,” she wrote. “Lenin’s statue stands in Fremont, Washington, a man who killed millions through starvation and cruelty. Clinton/Gore 1992 was advertised on Confederate flags throughout the nation during that election. Martin Luther King was against gay marriage. Will those statues remain standing?”
Trump unleashed a firestorm of criticism on Tuesday when he blamed both sides for the violence that erupted at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in the death of an anti-protester, Heather Heyer, and the deaths of two Virginia troopers whose helicopter crashed while observing the mayhem.
Keller didn’t directly address the rally, but said it was the Democratic party that “invented white nationalism” and “it’s time to go on the offense.”
Related: Keller and Mandel back plan to punish sanctuary cities “I expect those with a discerning spirit to understand what is happening here,” she wrote. “Soon, the Citadel will be closed down and the Reagan Library will be trashed. Conservatives have surrendered for so long that now we are paying the price….No more running from the liars and pillagers. It’s our country. We are the ones who can make racists afraid again. They need to live in disgrace because they are disgraceful.”
An aide to Keller on Thursday said she was not available for an interview, but she released this statement:
“I condemn in the strongest of terms the violence in Charlottesville and extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives that day, as well as the injured. Racism is certainly a cancer that needs to be eradicated from our society. Without question, the most absolute truth our nation was founded upon is that “all men are created equal.”
She added: “My personal Facebook posts over the weekend were simply to provide historical context to the issue of race relations in our country. Also, I was showing that taking down every statue of figures you disagree with is not the answer to this issue. The answer is dialogue. The answer is upholding the sanctity of every human life, no matter the race.”
Ohio Legislative Black Caucus President Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland, took issue with some of Keller’s Facebook comments.
“When we talk about America’s history, people want to say, ‘Oh, it’s a part of history.’ But it’s a nasty history,” she said. “When we look at those who were fighting for the Confederacy, the Confederacy – it was based on keeping slavery alive and well, which was the destruction of the black community and our African American community. That’s what it was. To say it was anything but that, we are being disingenuous. In having a conversation (with Keller), she really believes the hateful things that she puts out in this universe. It is just very alarming to me and now she is in a place to make laws for all of Ohio.”
Related: Butler County lawmaker appears on white power advocate’s show This isn’t the first time Keller has waded into controversial topics. In February, the first-term lawmaker joined state Treasurer Josh Mandel in backing a proposal to hold elected officials civilly and criminally liable if undocumented immigrants in their sanctuary cities injure or kill someone.
In April, Keller appeared on an online podcast hosted by a man who advocates the 14-word slogan, “We must secure the existence of our race and a future for white children.” The Anti-Defamation League identifies the 14-word slogan as a ubiquitous statement within the white supremacist movement.
Also in April, Keller defended a Facebook post in which she compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis.
Keller received 65 percent of the vote in her conservative district last November.