The seemingly interminable drama of S.C. Republican activist Rusty DePass rolled on yesterday as a source at his former real estate brokerage accused Columbia S.C. Mayor Bob Coble of pressuring the firm to fire DePass’ for making racist comments on a social networking website last week.
One of DePass’ former employees told FITS on condition of anonymity that Coble specifically threatened to deny city business to the Wilson-Kibler firm if it did not fire the former county GOP chairman – who last week posted a comment on Facebook comparing U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama with a gorilla that had escaped from a Columbia, S.C. zoo.
“That’s absolutely not true,” Mayor Coble told FITS yesterday. “There’s not a kernel of truth to that one. I would never do that. I haven’t been over there. I haven’t talked to anybody over there.”
Coble said he was not immediately aware of any business that Wilson-Kibler has with city government, although our source at the firm says that Wilson-Kibler does “a lot of work” with the governments of both the City of Columbia, S.C. and Richland County, S.C.
“My goal in all of this has been to make sure people know he does not speak for the people of Columbia, South Carolina,” Coble said. “That’s it.”
Coble added that “I think the way (DePass) handled himself has been appropriate,” referring to a press conference that DePass held Wednesday with NAACP leaders apologizing for his remark.
“You know, you can’t ask for any more than that,” Coble said.
So, does Coble think DePass should have been fired from his job?
“I think Rusty did what he felt he had to do,” Coble said. “If he worked for me and had apologized in that way, I think that would have been enough.”
DePass was “let go” from his position Tuesday, our source at Wilson-Kibler says, adding that DePass did not want to leave but was asked to resign.
A FITS poll taken last week showed that 82% of readers described DePass’ remark as “harmful racism,” although a more recent poll shows that only 32% of readers felt that he should have lost his job for the comments.