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Texas agriculture chief says staffer sent offensive tweet

🕐 3 min read

A since-deleted tweet sent from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s account on Tuesday used an obscene term to describe Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee. 

After initially claiming he was hacked, Miller said the tweet came from a staffer who did not realize the full extent of what he or she was sharing. The agriculture commissioner, a vocal Trump supporter, said he had been working all day and had instructed campaign staff to use his Twitter account to broadcast pro-Trump messages.  

“I said, ‘Why don’t y’all just do some retweets?'” Miller told The Texas Tribune. “They didn’t notice it had a derogatory term in it and they tweeted it out.” 

The episode instantly plunged the outspoken Miller into controversy. He earned a stern rebuke from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who said, “No true Texas gentleman would ever talk this way.” 

The original tweet, which was apparently copy-and-pasted from another user, purported to show the results of a poll, with Republican nominee Donald Trump earning 44 percent support and Clinton getting 43 percent. However, in place of Clinton’s name was the obscenity.  

Screenshot of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s deleted tweet

Miller or his staffers deleted the tweet within 15 minutes of posting it, and left another tweet in its place: “@MillerForTexas HAS BEEN HACKED. The disgusting re-tweet has been removed and we have changed all account passwords. Be advised.”  

A few minutes later, however, that tweet was also removed, and Miller’s campaign revealed they had actually screwed up. In a statement, his staff said they had “inadvertently retweeted a tweet that they were not aware contained a derogatory term.”  

“The tweet was taken down as soon as possible,” the statement said. “Commissioner Miller finds the term vulgar and offensive and apologizes to anyone who may have seen it.” 

Minutes before the Clinton tweet appeared on Miller’s account, the same message, word for word, was tweeted by another Trump supporter on Twitter with whom Miller’s account had been recently interacting. Asked if a staffer had copy-and-pasted the prior tweet and posted it under Miller’s name without noticing the obscenity, Miller told the Texas Tribune, “I think you’re right.”  

Miller, who sits on Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, has become one of his most visible supporters in Texas in the home stretch to Election Day. Before the offensive tweet surfaced Tuesday afternoon, Miller was enthusiastically tweeting about other polls and floating conspiracy theories about Clinton.   

Tuesday was not the first time Miller’s social media activity got him in trouble. He has previously had to answer for a post suggesting the United States nuke the Muslim world, and another comparing Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes.  

Miller’s tweet Tuesday was apparently too much for at least one fellow Republican: the governor.  

“The language is reprehensible and is an embarrassment,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in the statement. “No true Texas gentleman would ever talk this way.” 

Texas Democrats also piled on, tying Miller to other GOP officials in the Lone Star State. The state Democratic Party issued a statement calling Miller’s tweet part of a “consistent pattern where the Republican Party fails to show even the most basic sense of human decency.”  

“This cannot be swept under the rug,” said Crystal Perkins, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. “Texas families deserve better than this kind of disgusting language from their elected officials.” 

There was also some derision for the agriculture commissioner, who gained notoriety for taking out-of-state trips that involved an unusual medical treatment known as a “Jesus Shot.” In a one-sentence statement, the liberal group Progress Texas said, “With a mouth like that it sounds like Sid Miller needs another dose of that Jesus Shot.” 

By Tuesday evening, things seemed back to normal on Miller’s Twitter account. 

“Lots a breaking news on the campaign trail today,” Miller tweeted. “All signs are pointing to a big league victory!” 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2016/11/01/miller-calls-clinton-obscene-term-twitter/.

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