Orange County Republican party member Marilyn Davenport is refusing to resign from the party after having sent out a racist email depicting President Obama's head on the body of an ape, according to the Orange County Weekly.
Davenport, a Tea Party member and elected official of the County Republican party, sent an email to fellow party members in which Mr. Obama's head is pasted on the body of a baby ape. The image also depicts two adult apes wearing human clothing - presumably referencing Mr. Obama's parents. "Now you know why no birth certificate," reads the accompanying text.
Davenport later apologized to recipients of the email in the event that she had offended anyone with the image, and denied the implication that the depiction was racist.
"I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth," she wrote in an email. "In no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email."
"In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race," she added. "I received plenty of emails about [former president] George Bush that I didn't particularly like yet there was no 'cry' in the media about them."
When contacted by a reporter about the incident, Davenport brushed off the incident.
"Oh, come on!" she told the Weekly. "Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black. Besides, I only sent it to a few people-mostly people I didn't think would be upset by it."
Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh has reportedly entreated Davenport to resign from her position, as he has determined that the group's bylaws prevent its members from voting her out. He told the Associated Press he hopes to have an ethics committee investigate the incident.
But Davenport said she had no plans to resign.
"I will NOT resign my central committee position over this matter that the average person knows and agrees is much to do about nothing," she wrote in her follow-up email.
Baugh told the Weekly he thought Davenport's email was "despicable" and "dripping with racism."
"When I saw that email today I thought it was despicable," Baugh said in an interview over the weekend. "It is dripping with racism and it does not promote the type of message Orange County Republicans want to deliver to the public. I think she should consider stepping down as an elected official."
Michael Schroeder, former chairman of the California Republican Party, said in an interview that based on this incident, Davenport should either resign from her post or be removed from it.
"This is a three strikes situation for Marilyn Davenport," he said. "She has disgraced herself and needs to resign. If she doesn't, the Republican Party must remove her."
This is not the first time the Orange County Republican party has made news for having issued controversial, race-driven statements about the president: in 2009, the Republican mayor of Orange County's Los Alamitos sent around an illustration of a watermelon patch at the White House. The county is also home to Orly Taitz, one of the nation's most vocal members of the "birther" movement.