A top GOP official in Texas is facing calls to resign from the governor and other members of her own party after she pushed a conspiracy theory that George Floyd's death was staged to damage President Donald Trump with black voters.
Bexar County GOP Chairwoman Cynthia Brehm presented the theory in a since-deleted Facebook post this week, asking for her followers' thoughts.
There is no evidence to support the claim the death of Floyd, a black man who died after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest on May 25, was staged.
Protests erupted across the country after citizen video showed Floyd, who was handcuffed, begging to be let up and crying out 'I can't breathe' as Chauvin and three other officers ignored his pleas.
Chauvin is now faces charges for second-degree murder and the other officers are charged with aiding and abetting murder. All four were fired the day after Floyd's death.
In her post Brehm wrote: 'These officers were involved in something, I'm not exactly sure what, but something is just not adding up.
'I think there is at least the "possibility", that this was a filmed public execution of a black man by a white cop, with the purpose of creating racial tensions.
'Considering the rising approval rating of President Trump in the black community, an event like this was unfortunately "predictable".'
A spokesman for Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement calling for Brehm to resign on Thursday morning.
'These comments are disgusting and have no place in the Republican Party or in public discourse,' spokesman John Wittman said.
'Cynthia Brehm should immediately resign her position as Chair of the Bexar County Republican Party.'
Soon after Wittman's statement, US Sen John Cornyn's campaign issued a statement saying: 'Senator Cornyn shares Governor Abbott’s belief that Cynthia Brehm should resign.'
US Sen Ted Cruz, Lt Gov Dan Patrick and Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey followed suit with their own resignation calls on Thursday afternoon.
'Cynthia Brehm's comments were wrong, and only serve to divide us at a time when we all need to come together. Given those harmful comments, she should resign from leadership,' Cruz tweeted.
Dickey said in a statement that he had 'personally reached out' to Brehm to ask her to step down.
Patrick tweeted: 'There is no excuse for this outrageous, ignorant racist message made worse by using her position as a local party leader to spread it.
'It does not reflect the thinking of Bexar GOP or Republicans anywhere.'
Brehm's Facebook post about Floyd first captured wide attention on Wednesday after San Antonio Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia shared a screenshot of it on Twitter.
The screenshot, which Garcia said he took on Wednesday morning, indicated that Brehm published the post late the night before. It was deleted less than 24 hours later.
The Texas Democratic Party put out a statement on Wednesday evening saying that Abbott and other Texas Republicans should ask for Brehm's resignation.
'Cynthia Brehm's comments are flat out wrong and dangerous,' party spokesman Abhi Rahman said in a statement. 'Enough is enough.'
Garcia's tweet prompted US Rep Chip Roy (R - Austin), whose district includes Bexar County, to call for Brehm to step down immediately.
The other Republican congressman who represents Bexar County, Rep Will Hurd of Helotes, also called for Brehm's resignation after Abbott did so on Thursday.
State Sens Donna Campbell (R - New Braunfels) and Pete Flores (R - Pleasanton) also backed Abbott's call.
As Brehm faced widespread backlash, it emerged that the GOP chairman in another large Texas county had posted the same text about the Floyd theory on Facebook last week.
The post from Jim Kaelin - chairman for Nueces County, which includes Corpus Christi - called the theory an 'interesting perspective'.
This is the second time in a matter of weeks that Brehm, who took over as GOP chair for Bexar County in 2018, has come under fire for advancing a right-wing conspiracy theory.
Last month she made headlines for declaring that the coronavirus pandemic was a Democratic hoax.