A member of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's staff once was a pro-secessionist who wore a Confederate flag mask in public, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
The Kentucky Republican enlisted Jack Hunter, 39, to help write his book, "The Tea Party Goes to Washington" during his 2010 Senate campaign. In August 2012, Hunter joined Paul's office as social media director.
From 1999 to 2012, Hunter was a radio shock jock known as the "Southern Avenger" in South Carolina, discussing issues such as racial pride and Hispanic immigration, and proffered his support for the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the Free Beacon said.
He wore a mask of the stars and bars during public appearances.
In a 2004 blog post, Hunter said, "[The] Southern Avenger does regret that Lincoln's murder automatically turned him into a martyr."
In another post, Hunter wrote: "Black Americans are encouraged to celebrate their racial identity by appealing to their shared experience of injustice and African roots. Hispanics indulge in an even more nationalistic form of racial identity by flying Mexican flags, listening to a foreign music that both black and white Americans have never even heard of and turning everywhere they settle into northern outposts of their Mexican homeland."
Paul, reportedly considering a 2016 Republican presidential bid, spent recent months urging the Republican Party to look "like the rest of America" by welcoming minority voters.
The disclosure of Hunter's views complicates those efforts, analysts told The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal.
Thomas Whalen, a Boston University political historian and author, said the disclosure "pretty much shreds" Paul's efforts with minorities.
Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley declined a Courier-Journal request for interviews with the senator and Hunter.
"Sen. Paul holds his staff to a standard that includes treating every individual with equal protection and respect, without exception," Bagley said in a statement. "Our office policy is that all employees treat individuals with the equal protection of the law."
Hunter said in a statement the revelations in the conservative online news publication don't "accurately reflect me."
"Years ago, I was a radio host whose job was to provoke and inflame," he said. "I abhor racism and I have never advocated anything other than equal protection under the law for all people."
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