A Republican West Virginia state lawmaker came under fire not only from Democrats but from both his employer and the speaker of the state’s House of Delegates after sending a tweet that said presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton should be tried for treason and murder and then executed on the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C.
Michael Folk (R-Berkeley), a member of the House of Delegates, deleted the tweet sometime after it was sent on Friday. He expressed regret over the weekend about the part of the tweet that Clinton should be “hung on the Mall in Washington, D.C.,” according to an article on CNN’s website.
Reached on his cellphone Monday, Folk refused to make further comments about the tweet, which he wrote after watching a video of U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the House, question a federal intelligence official about Clinton’s use of classified emails on her private server.
FBI Director James Comey recently concluded that although Clinton had been careless with her emails while serving as secretary of state, the case did not warrant criminal prosecution.
West Virginia GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas did not immediately respond to AMI Newswire’s request for a comment, but Jared Hunt, spokesman for the speaker of House of Delegates, Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha), provided a statement by email.
In the statement, Armstead said, “Let me make clear that Delegate Folk is not a part of the leadership team of the House, and his comments are his own and do not represent our Republican caucus.”
The speaker went on to say that he and others on his leadership team have strong concerns about Clinton’s positions and actions, and he singled out her stance on energy industry issues in the state.
But Armstead added, “We certainly condemn any calls for violence against her or any other person.”
The speaker also expressed disappointment about the tenor of the U.S. presidential election campaign.
“It is unfortunate that the national campaign has become so emotionally charged,” he said, “and I hope that as we head into fall and the general election campaign, the focus will be on the policies of the candidates and their impact on our state and our people.”
Folk told CNN that Clinton should still be tried for treason based on the information that has come out through the federal investigation of her email practices, but he said the last part of his tweet was hyperbole. An average person who had done the same thing that Clinton did would have been sent to prison for life, he said.
The Boston Globe reported that Folk claimed it was a “misconception” that he made an actual death threat against Clinton.
On Sunday, United Airlines, which employs Folk as a commercial pilot, tweeted that the state lawmaker has been grounded pending an investigation.
The airline’s Twitter feed stated, “We are appalled by his threatening comments ... We’re appalled by comments advocating harm to anyone. They do not represent United & we’re looking into the matter.”
Belinda Biafore, chairwoman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, suggested that Folk should consider resigning in the wake of his tweet.
“Not only are Delegate Folk’s words concerning, they are disturbing,” Biafore said in a prepared statement. “The mention of hanging and the implication of murder should never, ever be acceptable.”
Rhetoric such as was used in the Folk tweet is becoming more common in the GOP, both at the state level and nationally, and should not be tolerated in a person in a position of power, she said.