A member of the campaign for Gwinnett House candidate Valerie Clark apologized this week for racist and sexist social media posts he wrote when he was a teenager.
Clark, a Republican trying to reclaim the House District 101 seat she lost in 2016, said she later dismissed Aaron Zhanik Brock. Brock's social media accounts previously described him as Clark's campaign manager.
“These comments do not reflect my views and I am thankful that it was brought to my attention,” Clark said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I have informed the campaign worker that he is immediately dismissed and I apologize on behalf of my campaign for any offense that was taken as a result of this language.”
“As a former school teacher and principal,” the statement continued, “people know of my love and concern for others. When I was made aware of the comments that were made by a person representing my campaign, I acted immediately.”
Brock’s old Twitter and Facebook posts were highlighted on social media Monday night by the Gwinnett County Democratic Party.
The screenshots and others released by the Democrats included posts that said the following:
"You vote for black, you can't go back. You vote for white, it'll be alright."
"All black people want is pity for something that happened 150 years ago and extra rights."
"Hillary Clinton better not be the next President. I've seen women drivers. I don't want to see women presidents."
Those posts and most of the others highlighted were written in 2012 and 2013. Brock said he was 18 at the time.
“We’ve all said things we regret on social media, especially when we were teenagers. I am no exception, and I sincerely apologize,” he wrote in a message to The AJC. “I deeply regret what I said over five years ago and have since grown and matured in many ways, especially through these past two years since I’ve joined the military. Those old tweets do not reflect who I am in any way.
“Both parties need to focus on finding solutions to make Georgia the best state in the Union to find a job, raise a family, and be successful,” he continued.
Despite social media claims about being Clark’s campaign manager, Brock described himself as merely a full-time college student who volunteered with the campaign on weekends for the last two months or so.
Neither Brock nor Clark responded to questions attempting to clarify Brock’s exact role. Campaign finance disclosures did not list any payments from Clark’s campaign to Brock.
Clark represented the Lawrenceville-based District 101 from 2010 to 2016 before narrowly losing to Democrat Sam Park. Park is running for reelection, setting up a November rematch.
“The racism and sexism expressed in my opponent’s campaign manager’s statements is hateful, divisive and deeply hurtful,” Park said. “Aaron Zhanik Brock’s views have no place on either side of the aisle in Georgia politics, and certainly not on the Clark campaign to represent the people of Gwinnett, the most diverse county in Georgia.”
Before taking over the AJC's morning newsletter, Tyler Estep worked as a reporter covering DeKalb County, its government and its people. A Gwinnett County native and University of Georgia graduate, he has been with the AJC since 2015. He previously covered his home county and served stints on the paper's hyperlocal and breaking news teams.