Michelle Obama post puts tiny town at center of firestorm

The mayor of a small West Virginia town has stepped down and the director of a non-profit has been placed on leave after outrage exploded across social media over a post-election Facebook post aimed at Michelle Obama.

“It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels,” read the post by Pamela Ramsey Taylor, director of the Clay County Development Corp., according to media reports.

The resignation of Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling, who reportedly responded “Just made my day Pam” to Taylor's Facebook post, was effective immediately, town recorder Joe Coleman told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Taylor told WCHS-TV on Monday that she was put on leave.

The post was shared hundreds of times on social media before it was apparently deleted.

The incident placed the tiny enclave of Clay – with fewer than 500 people and named for statesman Henry Clay – at the center of a firestorm as racial tensions have flared nationwide in the week since the election. West Virginians voted overwhelmingly for Republican Donald Trump, and he won 77% of the votes in Clay County.

Whaling said her comment was not meant as racist in a written apology issued to news media outlets.

“I was referring to my day being made for change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feeling this may have caused! Those who know me know that I’m not in any way racist!”

The non-profit Clay County Development Corp. offers services to seniors and low-income residents and is funded through state and federal grants and local fees. It is not affiliated with the town of Clay.

Clay’s town council planned to discuss the issue at a previously scheduled meeting Tuesday evening.

The mayor's office could not be reached for comment by USA TODAY.

Contributing: The Associated Press

USA TODAY


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