John Whitbeck, the chairman of the 10th District Republican Committee and a prominent figure in the Loudoun GOP, has apologized for telling an anti-Semitic joke at a rally for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II last week.

“Earlier this week, I made a lighthearted attempt at humor to which some have taken offense,” Whitbeck said in a statement posted Friday on the 10th District committee Web site. “It was certainly not my intent to offend anyone and I sincerely apologize to those who were.”

Whitbeck, a Cuccinelli supporter who ran unsuccessfully for a House of Delegates seat in 2011, sparked controversy at a tea party rally in Sterling when he got onstage before Cuccinelli arrived and told a joke in which the “head of the Jewish religion” presented the pope with a “bill for the Last Supper.”

Jewish groups and figures from both parties condemned the joke as anti-Semitic, but Whitbeck initially defended it and blamed liberal groups for stirring controversy. Cuccinelli, who is running for governor against Terry McAuliffe (D), also condemned the joke and said it was inappropriate.

Whitbeck has been discussed as a possible candidate to run for the seat of state Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) if Herring wins the race for attorney general.