Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner and his camp are in hot water after a political consultant handling Wagner’s campaign shared a lewd, transphobic meme via text.
As reported by Evening Sun, on Thursday morning Ray Zaborney sent the message to Wagner’s campaign manager Jason High; finance director Jenise Harris, policy director Shauna Boscaccy — and a reporter for Billy Penn, who was not an intended recipient.
Zaborney is a connected political media specialist who regularly provides information to journalists, both on-record and off-the-record. He had been in touch with the reporter from Billy Penn for unrelated reasons on Wednesday.
The meme of Jenner shared via group text mocks Nike’s recent headline-grabbing campaign that featured Colin Kaepernick. The black and white image features Nike’s trademark swoosh and “Just Do It” logo beneath a portrait of Jenner. Written across are the words, “Believe in something, even if it means cutting your d*ck off.”
Zaborney backtracked, attempting to bribe the reporter who intercepted the meme with “on background” information about something in hopes he would "forget" the meme. Too late. Billy Penn informed Zaborney that the meme would make the news.
So Zaborney tried to apologize in a press release, saying:
“Anyone questioning my commitment to diversity or the LGBT community obviously doesn’t know me very well. I am a passionate believer in equality for all and have long been an advocate for marriage equality and ending discrimination in all forms against the LGBTQ community. I’m proud of my advocacy and proud of my efforts and will continue to stand for equality.”
It should be noted, none of the recipients of the transphobic message responded on the group chat. They also didn’t respond to Evening Sun’s requests for response.
Wagner is already on rocky terrain with the HRC and other LGBTQ+ rights activists, following a remark he made about transgender bathroom choice and “bathroom bills” on the campaign trail last month.
“It’s real simple,” Wagner said at an August campaign event in Zelienople, Pa. “If you’re born with male plumbing, you use the men’s room. If you’re born with female plumbing, you use the ladies’ room. Period.”
His camp followed up by saying Wagner supports bathroom choice, so long as the individual in question has changed their gender on their ID card.
In the past, Wagner has expressed support for The Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would provide much-needed civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ residents of the state. This has been a source of contention with conservative voters, as well as rival GOP gubernatorial candidates.
Jenner is an outspoken Republican, and supported Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign.
h/t: Evening Sun