Shery Lanford Smith posted the joke on her public profile Thursday afternoon, according to a screen-capture taken by the Sumter Item‘s Nick McCormac. Smith removed the post after being asked about it.
In the joke, the Obamas’ helicopter pilot says to his co-pilot, “I could throw both of them out of the window and make 256 million people very happy!” Smith also posted, “If you’re one of [the] 256 million, pass it on,” implying she herself would be happy to see the Obamas killed.
The joke has been circulating for years in various forms which have included the names of multiple political figures. “It’s just a joke,” Smith told the Item when contacted about her post. “I had no idea it would be an issue.”
Smith was elected chairwoman of the Sumter Tea Party in February 2011, according to the organization’s now-defunct website.
While Smith’s joke was clearly posted in jest, this isn’t the first time a South Carolina political figure has come under fire for inflammatory Facebook posts. In 2009, longtime SCGOP activist Rusty DePass drew national attention after posting that an escaped gorilla was probably “just one of Michelle [Obama]’s ancestors.”
In July, the co-chairman of the Kershaw County Republican Party was asked to resign after ‘liking’ a post which outlines when one should “shoot a cop.” That article was first posted by the Kershaw County Patriots, another tea party-affiliated group.