Topeka House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, on Thursday issued an apology for an email he forwarded to fellow House Republicans that refers to first lady Michelle Obama as "Mrs. YoMama" and compares a photograph of her to a picture of the Grinch.
"Twins separated at birth?" the subject line of the email says.
The email includes a picture of Mrs. Obama next to one of the Grinch. It has been making the rounds on the Internet. Mrs. Obama's hair appears to be swept up by the wind, and O'Neal writes, "Sorry, just had to forward this latest holiday message! I've had worse hair days but this is pretty funny."
The forwarded portion of the email also states, "I'm sure you'll join me in wishing Mrs. YoMama a wonderful, long Hawaii Christmas vacation — at our expense, of course." The Obamas spent the holidays in President Barack Obama's home state of Hawaii.
O'Neal said he forwarded the email "too quickly missing the text included in the body of the email." He added, "To those I have offended, I am sorry. That was not my intent."
Earlier on Thursday, however, Alyson Rodee, who is O'Neal's communications director, defended O'Neal.
"Political cartoons are a part of American culture. It's hard to see how Mike O'Neal poking fun at himself and forwarding a lighthearted political cartoon about the first lady's extravagant spending of taxpayer funds during a time when many Americans are financially struggling is newsworthy," Rodee said.
But Kansas Democratic Party Chair Joan Wagnon said the email forwarded by O'Neal was "highly offensive, disrespectful and unacceptable." She added, "Regardless of how he feels about President Obama's politics, Speaker O'Neal's decision to promote language demeaning Mrs. Obama is simply wrong. The fact that his communications director thinks this is just `a lighthearted political cartoon' is appalling."
Earlier this week, the Lawrence Journal-World was sent an email that O'Neal had forwarded to House Republicans that referred to President Obama and a Bible verse that says “Let his days be few and brief.”
Rodee said that that email was referring to the president’s days in office.
The email, which has been posted in various places on the Internet, refers to a bumper sticker that reads “Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8.”
Psalm 109:8 says, “Let his days be few and brief; and let others step forward to replace him.”
The email states: “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”
Both of the forwarded emails were sent from O'Neal's private email address.