The former mayor of Lewiston, Maine has resigned after being exposed for emails and texts in which he made a disparaging joke about elderly black people, The Sun Journal reports.
Shane Bouchard, who is a Republican, joked in private messages that elderly black people were “antique farm equipment.”
In a text exchange with a woman named Heather Everly Berube whom he allegedly had an affair with, Bouchard said “all my jokes are quite racist” before telling the joke with the “farm equipment” punchline (For the full joke, visit The Sun Journal. It won’t be printed in its entirety here).
“Yikes,” Berube responded.
That text exchange was among 150 other private messages that Berube leaked to The Sun Journal.
As The Journal points out, the exchange came exactly two months before internal campaign emails were released from Bouchard’s opponent, Ben Chin, including one in which Chin said that he’d encountered “a bunch of racists” while campaigning — comments which were slammed as divisive. Chin’s leaked emails reportedly helped Bouchard go on to win the race.
When Bouchard’s messages went public Thursday, he issued an apology and insisted he’s not racist.
“I say stupid things and stupid jokes occasionally,” he said, adding that “you can tell from the context of it that it was, you know, a joke. And in poor taste, of course.”
He then seemingly placed some of the blame for his words on Berube.
“If you looked at the message, she was pushing me to just tell her any kind of joke and, I don’t know, I just, it came out,” he said. “It is tasteless and it is in no way a reflection of how I feel.”
“I think my actions towards minorities in this community are going to speak a lot louder than an off-color joke to a friend,” he continued. “My actions are very pro immigrant, you’ll find. My board and committee appointments. My outreach. I don’t think you’ll find anything racist about me, period, in general.”
Bouchard resigned his position as mayor on Friday.
Featured image via screen grab