John Mandt Jr., a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, resigned from his office Saturday after screenshots of him using antigay slurs and disparaging the LGBTQ+ community surfaced on Twitter, reports KDKA, a local CBS affiliate.
Several screenshots of messages sent in a Facebook group chat called “The ‘Right’ Stuff” were shared on Twitter. These screenshots appear to show the Cabell County politician making gay jokes, using the antigay slur "faggot," criticizing fellow Republicans for being “sponsors of a queer bill,” and personally insulting other state lawmakers.
Jeffrey Ward, who is running for a City Council seat in Huntington, W.Va., confirmed to that city's Herald-Dispatch that he was invited to join the group and that Mandt was the one who made these comments.
“At first this group spoke of issues in the community and occasionally had some locker-room humor,” Ward said. “However, the rhetoric from Delegate Mandt and several members shifted to personal attacks, sophomoric remarks and were not issue driven and were beneath the dignity of his office — as such, I left the group in March of this year.”
Mandt initially denied making the statements in a now-deleted Facebook post and even tried positioning himself as the victim. “Everything electronic can be fabricated. It’s by design, my family, my business are being attacked,” he said in the post. Since deleting the post, he has not commented on the issue.
This is not Mandt's first reported antigay offense. Civil rights advocacy group Fairness West Virginia reported in a weekend statement that in 2019, Mandt defended a fellow delegate who said he’d drown his own kids if they were gay and later referred to the LGBTQ+ community as the “alphabet hate group.”
“In West Virginia, we believe in treating everyone with dignity and respect. We believe in the Golden Rule,” Fairness West Virginia said in the statement. “But sadly, West Virginia is a state where discrimination against LGBTQ people is still legal. Leaders like Del. Mandt want to keep it that way.”
Mandt had been running for reelection this fall, but following his resignation, he has quit the campaign. According to West Virginia law, when a delegate resigns, the delegate’s party gets to submit three suggestions for a replacement and the governor appoints one of them.