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Del. Michael Webert, others in GOP blast party treasurer over online comment

Friday, Mar. 14 | By Jonathan Hunley
The treasurer of the state GOP has faced scrutiny recently over what he claims was a mistaken online comment.

Bob FitzSimmonds, a former state Senate candidate, was blasted by fellow Republicans, including Marshall's Del. Michael Webert, and asked to resign his party job following a Facebook posting about an entry on a political blog.

FitzSimmonds, a Nokesville resident who is the chief deputy clerk of the Prince William Circuit Court, was discussing the crowded field seeking the GOP nomination for Virginia's 10th Congressional District seat.

Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican, isn't seeking re-election, and several candidates in his party would like to succeed him in the district, which takes in part of the Prince William region. One of those is Del. Bob Marshall from western Prince William County.

Another is Del. Barbara Comstock of Fairfax County. It was comments about her that started the rancor over FitzSimmonds, as The Virginian-Pilot noted. The Norfolk newspaper was the first to report the story.

FitzSimmonds apparently was responding to a female commenter and Comstock supporter who "touted the strength of GOP women voters," The Virginian-Pilot said.

"I have nothing against Barbara Comstock, but I hate sexist (expletive)," he wrote, the expletive being a profane description of female genitalia.

Contacted by a Times reporter last week, FitzSimmonds issued this statement:

“I inadvertently misused a word on Facebook. I thought it meant one thing (silly speech), but it was quickly pointed out to me that it actually had a vulgar meaning. I honestly had no idea the word had this vulgar meaning up until that point.

Friends also offered FitzSimmonds supportive comments on Facebook after the incident.

Fellow Republicans didn't necessarily back him, though.

Virginia GOP Chairman Pat Mullins has sought FitzSimmonds' resignation as treasurer as have some Republican House of Delegates leaders. One of those was Del. Tim Hugo, the party caucus chairman who represents part of Prince William.

Del. Christopher Peace of Mechanicsville also sent Mullins a letter, asking the chairman to request FitzSimmonds' resignation and to "proceedings for formal censure for his lewd and lascivious conduct unbecoming of a party official."

Other House Republicans signed Peace's letter, as well. One of them was Webert.

He said in an interview last week that leaders in the public eye need to be careful of how they communicate.

If FitzSimmonds is sincere in apologizing about the incident, Webert said, everyone is "allowed a mistake every now and then."

But the vulgarity itself can't be tolerated, the lawmaker said.

"The language that was used is something that I don't condone with respect to women in general," he said.

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