In today’s episode of “Republican Racists” we take a visit to Lewiston, the second largest city in Maine, where GOP Mayor Shane Bouchard has decided to resign after his private text messages were leaked and found to contain racist jokes about African-Americans.
The Sun Journal reports that the private messages were released yesterday by Heather Everly Berube, the woman on the receiving end of the texts. Additionally, Berube claims to have had an affair with Bouchard and says while working for his political opponent Ben Chin’s campaign she leaked emails to Bouchard that helped him win his election.
“I had an affair with him, and he was able to retrieve e-mails from the [Maine People’s Alliance] and Ben Chin’s campaign. The best thing I can do for my community is to come forward and be honest and share what I know,” Berube said on Tuesday, before the texts were released.
The texts show Berube asking Bouchard to tell her a joke. After some prodding, Bouchard messaged her and said, “All of my jokes are quite racist lol” before diving right into some racism.
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“What do you call 2 old black people sitting on your front lawn? Antique farm equipment,” joked Bouchard in what was presumably an incredibly offensive reference to Black slaves working on plantations. Berube was clearly not a fan of the bigoted humor and texted back: “Yikes.”
“You can tell from the context of it that it was, you know, a joke. And in poor taste, of course,” Bouchard tried to explain after the messages were leaked. “If you looked at the message, she was pushing me to just tell her any kind of joke and, I don’t know, I just, it came out. It is tasteless and it is in no way a reflection of how I feel.”
The trove of text messages also contains plenty of benign communiqués between the two, including their discussion of Bouchard possibly appointing Berube to a School Committee seat, which he ultimately decided against doing.
Other text messages are sexually suggestive with Bouchard joking about his desire to find “a set of 20 year old blonde twins.” In another exchange, he said he was “Still holding out for twins. Or an overweight brunette. Lol.” Berube responded with a laughing emoji and Bouchard added “I’m so sexist. Lol.”
Another set of texts shows him joking about attending a Republican meeting and referring to it as a “clan” meeting, which is presumably a reference to the Ku Klux Klan, itself an insensitive attempt at a humor during a time when hate crimes are on the rise and there is a man in the Oval Office who regularly engages in racist rhetoric.
Clearly, this is not a man whose hands should be anywhere near the levers of power. Someone whose jokes are all “quite racist” can’t be trusted to work on the behalf of all people equally. The people of Lewiston are far better off without him.