A staffer for David Garcia, the leading Democratic candidate for Arizona governor, resigned on Thursday after a website unearthed her profane tweets about Arizona, "law and order," and the United States.
The right-wing site P.J. Media published screenshots of the tweets by Garcia's digital director, Xenia Orona, on Thursday.
"The language and the message of the tweets are not in line with the values and message of our campaign," Elliott wrote in an email. "The staff person involved offered her resignation and the campaign accepted it."
Among Orona's tweets that P.J. Media dug up:
"An open letter to Arizona: Fuck you," Orona tweeted on the evening of Election Day in 2012.
"Law and order is the smokescreen that bigots hide their hate behind. Remember that when you hear talk of enforcement," Orona tweeted on September 5, 2017. She used the hashtag #DACA, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program shielding young immigrants from deportation.
In January 2018, Orona wrote, "I am a business owner and a creative. I am a college graduate, the first of many in my family. I am involved in multiple campaigns to make Arizona a better place. I am from 5 generations of border crossers between this #shithole country and la Madre Tierra of México."
Following the word "shithole" was an emoji of the American flag.
"ICE is abusive and needs to be abolished," Orona tweeted in May 2018, with the hashtag #ftp, shorthand for "fuck the police." The tweet was later deleted, P.J. Media reported.
Orona could not be reached for comment. Her Twitter account is set to private, although an archived snapshot of her page from the Wayback Machine shows that it was public as recently as July 22.
The tweets in question ranged from several months to several years old. The tweet where Orona told Arizona "Fuck you" is nearly six years old.
When reached via email, P.J. Media assistant editor Tyler O'Neil said that he was tipped off to Orona's tweets by a source, whom he would not reveal.
O'Neil clarified that he does not support the "witch hunt mentality of trying to fire people based on old tweets."
"However, in this case I do think Orona’s tweets reveal a kind of anti-American, anti-rule of law push that goes hand in hand with identity politics, and Garcia’s campaign is largely driven by identity politics and the demand to abolish ICE," O'Neil wrote to Phoenix New Times. "Garcia has said someone with his last name should win, in the context of pushing minority candidates."
"It is quite plausible that Orona’s tweets represent something of the spirit of his campaign, whether he admits it or not," O'Neil added.
In a Democratic gubernatorial debate hosted by 12 News on Friday morning, Garcia was asked about Orona's tweets. "What does that tell us about the discipline on your campaign and what you would bring to the governor's office?" reporter Brahm Resnik asked.
"It was unfortunate," Garcia replied, and added, "We had a staffer who on her personal account, years ago, posted some remarks that are not reflective of our campaign, and she has resigned.”
Garcia said that the campaign is vetting staffers "without question."
According to the Garcia campaign's latest financial disclosure, which covers April to the end of June, Orona was paid $3,000 for her work as digital director.
The story about Orona is similar to recent takedowns and firings predicated on social media gaffes and off-color tweets. Campaigns to get media figures and celebrities fired for old, inflammatory statements have embroiled their targets in controversy.
Disney fired James Gunn as the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise after right-wing trolls spread his offensive tweets about rape and pedophilia. The New York Times stood by tech writer Sarah Jeong despite a similar campaign – opponents surfaced her tweets about white people after the NYT announced that Jeong was joining the editorial board.
Orona isn't a public figure herself, but opponents of Garcia's have weaponized her bad judgment to attack the gubernatorial candidate's credibility.
Based on the timing of her tweets, it seems like Orona had the bad habit of reaching for her phone during moments of political upheaval.
When Orona ripped the U.S. as a "shithole country" in January, she was quoting President Trump, who used the phrase that month to refer to African nations and Haiti.
She flew off the handle and wrote "Fuck you" to Arizona on the day of the 2012 presidential election, when the state went for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
And Orona wrote her tweet casting "law and order" as a "smokescreen that bigots hide their hate behind" on the same day that the Trump administration announced it was rescinding DACA.
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Arizona conservatives who support Governor Doug Ducey seized on Orona's tweets as soon as P.J. Media hit publish.
Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesperson for Ducey's re-election campaign, wrote on Twitter that Orona's language was "uncalled for." J.P. Twist, Ducey's campaign manager, wrote, "So we are supposed believe that [David Garcia] never vetted the social media of the person he hired to do his social media? Really?"
And in an email to New Times, Ducey campaign spokesperson Patrick Ptak said, "It's extremely troubling someone with these views would be employed by David Garcia's campaign."
"Garcia wants to be governor, and lead the Department of Public Safety – he should be standing up for law enforcement, not employing people who attack them with vile words," Ptak wrote.