A gay Republican appointee to Virginia's LGBTQ Advisory Board has sparked controversy for attacking private citizens and elected officials online with vulgar insults.
The state's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has appointed Casey Flores, 31, to the Virginia LGBTQ Advisory Board, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The 21-member board advises the governor on matters of policy and the interests of LGBTQ+ Virginians.
But leaders in the LGBTQ+ community and Virginia officials want Flores to withdraw before his appointment takes effect July 1 due to "disgusting" public behavior that came to light this week.
For instance, in one tweet, he accuses Vice President Kamala Harris of "suck[ing] the right dick" to reach her position.
In another, he attacks a person he disagrees with on an unrelated topic for his and his wife's appearance. "Before I go - you and your wife should hit the gym lmao," Flores writes.
Flores also aimed his ire at another Twitter user who raised concerns that groups like the Proud Boys and others act violently based on political rhetoric they hear.
"Lmao let me know when you find these groups," he begins. "I'm sure they're out there since you keep talking about them."
He concludes with "you fat, racist slob."
Flores is no stranger to shock-media types.
There are photos on Flores's Instagram feed of him with far-right provocateur Steve Bannon, Mike Lindell, and others. As a result of refusing to respond to a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attacks, the Department of Justice indicted Bannon on charges of contempt of Congress in November.
In a statement, Richmond's Mayor Levar Stoney, a Democrat, urged Youngkin to remove Flores from the board.
"Gubernatorial appointments are a reflection of a governor's values and beliefs, and the Youngkin administration is displaying a disturbing pattern," Stoney wrote on Facebook. "I implore the Governor to take swift action to assure Virginians that racism and misogyny have no place in public service and remove these two individuals immediately."
The second person Stoney refers to is embattled Virginia Health Commissioner Colin Greene, who "dismissed the role of structural racism in public health," according to The Washington Post.
In addition to his appointment to the advisory board, Flores is president of the recently established Log Cabin Republicans of Virginia.
Flores believes America is better off when those who would take away LGBTQ+ rights run it.
"I personally would much rather have a country that is run by right-wing Evangelicals that disagree with gay marriage than the left as it currently is," he said on the Faithful Politics podcast recently.
State Del. Paul Krizek, a Democrat, told The Advocate that Flores must go.
"The kind of behavior Flores demonstrates on social media should be disqualifying for any type of gubernatorial appointment, and I am appalled that someone with consistently nasty behavior online would be considered," Krizek said. "His appointment reflects poorly on the Commonwealth. This is not a partisan issue for me; it would not matter if these comments were made by a Democrat or a Republican."
Krizek said he rarely criticizes the governor's decisions on Twitter or in comments but hopes Youngkin will replace Flores on the advisory board since Flores's behavior has come to light.
This month, Macaulay Porter, the governor's press secretary, referred The Advocate to Flores as someone who supported Youngkin's overtures toward the LGBTQ+ community by participating in Youngkin's Pride events, which most community leaders boycotted.
Related — Check out more of the Advocate’s news coverage on Pride Today:
Flores became aggressive and insulting when The Advocate called him to address the controversy.
"No one really reads The Advocate," Flores said before explaining that he was upset that the publication didn't reach out to him for comment on a previous story that he had read.
"You had an opportunity to ask me for quotes on the other story ... on Youngkin and his Pride outreach, and you didn't," Flores said. "You totally advocated for something that was against Republicans actually reaching out, so I don't really have much interest in talking to The Advocate considering nobody reads you guys."
In response to the question "Are you sure this is the attitude you're looking to take?" he raised his voice and repeatedly said "Nobody reads The Advocate" in a singsongy voice. "I'm conversing with reporters, but nobody reads The Advocate. If you were a reporter for a real publication [I'd talk to you], but nobody reads The Advocate, bro!"
After that, he abruptly ended the call.
Flores has falsely attacked other LGBTQ+ people, using the current conservative tactic of referring to them as "groomers."
On May 27, Flores responded "OK, groomer" to Robin Witt, a Florida activist who announced she had earned the position of vice president for the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus.
The Advocate asked Youngkin's press secretary for a reaction to Flores's tweets and the behavior he demonstrated in his call with the publication, considering she hailed him as an example of a respectable representative of the conservative LGBTQ+ community, but she did not respond.
The Times-Dispatch reported that Flores has agreed to tone down his comments on social media.
The Democratic Party of Virginia's press secretary, Gianni Snidle, said Flores's behavior conflicts with his responsibilities as an LGBTQ Advisory Board member.
"He's a representative of the governor, and he's accosting families, children, and the LGBTQ+ community, the people he's supposed to represent, and is doubling down [on defending his tweets] even after the administration said that they had a talk with him and that he would tone it down," Snidle said.
The governor's failure to remove Flores from the advisory board proves that Youngkin isn't trying to find common ground, he added.
"It just shows that Youngkin is willing to stand behind this political appointee that is saying vile, vile things," Snidel said.
In an interview with The Advocate, James Millner, director of Virginia Pride, said he understands the governor can appoint conservative members of the LGBTQ+ community to his advisory board.
"I am fully supportive of informed, mature, civil debate about policy issues, and conservative voices have as much right to be at the table as a liberal voice does, and I fully support that," Millner said. "But I take issue with the vitriol with which Casey Flores particularly has communicated with people online.
"The incendiary, insulting, disgusting, vile, misogynistic comments that he has made about elected officials and people who have challenged him on a policy level are things I don't understand."
He sees only one solution to the problem: for the governor to remove Flores from the board.
"Does Casey Flores represent the values of the Youngkin administration on this board?" Millner asked.