Carl Paladino issues defiant apology for insulting Obamas

ALBANY — The New York co-chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign issued an apology Tuesday for incendiary remarks he made last week about President Obama and his wife.

In a statement, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino said his controversial comments about the President and Michelle Obama came during an “emotional moment” and he never intended them to be seen by the public at large.

“I never intended to hurt the minority community who I spent years trying to help out of the cycle of poverty in our inner cities,” Paladino said in the statement. “To them I apologize.”

Paladino, the state GOP’s 2010 candidate for governor, remained defiant, however, saying he would not step down from his post on the Buffalo school board and attacking Obama as a “traitor to American values.”

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The statement follows a firestorm that erupted Friday after ArtsVoice, a weekly Buffalo publication, published Paladino’s wish list for 2017, which included the hopes that President Obama would have sex with a cow and die from mad cow disease and that Michelle Obama would be “let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe” to live in a cave with a gorilla.

The Buffalo board of education has called for a special meeting Thursday, in which it is expected to discuss Paladino’s remarks, the Associated Press reported.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Tuesday called on state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove Paladino from the school board.

“Anyone who casually espouses such noxious and dehumanizing views is unfit to oversee the education of school children,” the Fund’s Janai Nelson wrote in a letter to Elia.

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State law allows the commissioner to remove elected school officers for willful misconduct or neglect of duty, but only after the Education Department receives a formal application for removal and a hearing is held. As of Tuesday, no formal application for Paladino’s removal had been received by the department, officials said.

“Despite what one’s personal feelings may be regarding Mr. Paladino’s remarks, Education Law §306 stipulates the Commissioner’s impartial role in this matter,” said Education Department spokeswoman Emily DeSantis. “Therefore, the Commissioner must follow the procedure required by law for the removal of school board members.”

The comments have been condemned by political leaders on both sides of the aisle — including the Trump transition team — and by the businessman’s son.

Petitions calling for Paladino to be removed from the Buffalo school board have garnered thousands of signatures.

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In his statement Tuesday, Paladino said he responded to ArtVoice’s questions soon after hearing an Obama statement about Aleppo and was emotional.

“Those survey questions provided me with the spark to vent and write deprecating humor about a bad President for whom the mainstream media continues to seek an undeserved legacy,” Paladino wrote. “I wanted to say something as sarcastic and hurtful as possible about the people who are totally responsible for the hurt and suffering of so many others. I was wired up, primed to be human and I made a mistake. I could not have made a worse choice in the words I used to express my feelings.”

Paladino said he only intended to share the comments with friends but hit “reply” instead of “forward” on an email, sending his remarks to ArtVoice by mistake.

He also continued to lash out at his critics, including “attacking parasites we now call progressive activist progressives” and the media.

“For the mean-spirited, disoriented press trying to find grounding and recover legitimacy on my back, pray that you still have a job next year because you have lost all credibility with the people,” he wrote.

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