Barbour’s press secretary resigns amid e-mail flap

at 08:24 PM ET, 03/14/2011

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has accepted the resignation of his press secretary, just hours after it was reported that the spokesman sent e-mails with off-color jokes about issues ranging from the earthquake in Japan to former attorney general Janet Reno.

“Gov. Haley Barbour has accepted Dan Turner’s resignation as press secretary,” read a brief statement from Barbour’s office. “Laura Hipp will now serve in that capacity.”

Post reporter Karen Tumulty, who happens to be traveling with the potential GOP presidential candidate today, said the governor disavowed any prior knowledge of the e-mails and said he didn’t know of the controversy until he was asked.

“First I’ve heard of it,” he said at the time, before Turner’s resignation was announced.

Barbour, who was in Chicago delivering a major address on the economy, was later informed by his chief of staff and accepted Turner’s resignation.

The news of Turner’s e-mails was first reported by Politico’s Ben Smith. In missives distributed to staff and supporters, Turner reportedly joked that Otis Redding’s hit “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay” is “not a big hit in Japan right now.” He also made cracks about Reno’s femininity, marijuana and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

When Smith asked Turner about the e-mails, Turner said his boss never saw the jokes and went on, “If you feel the need to skewer someone over that, I'm the guy with the bullseye on his back. There is one person responsible — me.”

It was the latest stumble for Barbour’s as-yet-undeclared presidential candidacy. The governor previously took heat for suggesting the civil rights era was “not that bad” in his home town.

 
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