Minnesota GOP official resigns over masks, Nazis post

WABASHA, Minn. (AP) — A county Republican board member in southern Minnesota has resigned after posting on Facebook an image that compares the state’s mask mandate to Jewish people wearing a star in concentration camps.

The Wabasha County GOP initially said its Facebook page apparently had been hacked. But Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said Tuesday that the picture was posted by a Wabasha County GOP board member, who has since resigned at the party’s request.

In a statement, Carnahan said Republicans are “saddened by the vitriolic post” and apologized “for this disappointing post.”

The county board member was not identified.

The image showed a Nazi officer telling a prisoner of war to wear the Star of David during the Holocaust and comparing that to the statewide COVID-19 mask requirement imposed by Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

Earlier, the Wabasha County GOP said the image was maliciously posted and taken down when it was discovered. The post received a number of negative comments and drew a response from the Jewish Community Relations Council.

“It’s a disgrace to the memory of WWII veterans as well as survivors of the Holocaust and anybody that fought,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party said in a statement that the Wabasha County post wasn’t the only instance of the Republican Party linking a mask requirement to Naziism, citing recent remarks by a pair of legislative candidates. The party also cited a tweet by Carnahan that likened Walz to North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un.

Ken Martin, the state party chairman, said such rhetoric risks driving up non-compliance rates so the virus may spread more easily.