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State employee quits after posts criticized; treasurer calls writings 'insulting' to women, gays

by Eric Besson | January 24, 2017 at 5:45 a.m.
Hunter Hatcher resignation letter

An outreach coordinator in Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan's office resigned Monday amid backlash from social media posts that Milligan said were "insulting" to women and people in the gay community.

Hunter Hatcher, a member of the Arkansas National Guard who has been on unpaid military leave from the treasurer's office since December, submitted his resignation voluntarily and it was accepted, Milligan spokesman Stacy Peterson said.

"It is my intent to focus on my military service to my country," Hatcher's emailed resignation said. "I would like to offer my sincere apologies to all who were offended by my egregious remarks, as it was not becoming of a Soldier. I am very contrite but will continue to focus on my mission with the Army."

On Friday, a Twitter account that news reports identified as belonging to Hatcher (@HatchbackHunter) referred to President Donald Trump's inauguration and made what Peterson said were "anti-gay remarks."

"Y'all in Trump's America now! Time to flick that chip off ya shoulder and quit being so offended. Gay jokes are back on ya bunch of homos," the post said, according to a screen shot of the comment published on various websites.

On Saturday, a Facebook account that reports identified as belonging to Hatcher shared a post by Little Rock TV station KARK about the Arkansas Women's March, commenting: "If all these women are at the Capitol, who's making lunch?" according to a screen shot of the post.

"I love Subway cause I can tell a woman to make me a sandwich and she does it with a smile on her face," a Jan. 1 post from the same Facebook account says, according to a screen shot of the post. "I wish all women had that Subway work ethic. ... Don't get equal, get to cooking woman, get equal on your own time."

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Hatcher could not be reached for comment or to verify he wrote the posts. He did not respond to a request on social media, and efforts to find a cellphone number were unsuccessful.

On Monday, the HatchbackHunter Twitter account, whose bio says "Sniper. Conservative. Cyclist. Drummer. CrossFitter. Adventurer." was listed as private, meaning only people approved by the account's user can see postings. A Facebook page could not be found.

"I think that [Hatcher] has deleted [the accounts] and blocked them now," Peterson said.

Milligan did not directly hire Hatcher, who joined the office in April 2015, Peterson said. A third party referred Hatcher to the treasurer's office, and he was interviewed and "went through the process like anyone else," she said.

As an outreach coordinator, Hatcher's job was to arrange meetings between community groups, such as Rotary clubs, and Milligan, Peterson said. Hatcher did not speak for Milligan in that role, Peterson said.

Hatcher's salary was $35,752.50, Peterson said.

Milligan, a Republican and one of the state's seven constitutional officers, issued statements on Sunday and Monday.

"We are obviously very disappointed in some recent outbursts on social media by one of our employees who is currently on military leave," Milligan wrote Sunday. "Insinuating that women belong only in the home is insulting. These statements, and the others he made, in no way represent the views of the Treasurer, who does not and has never held such audacious viewpoints."

Milligan wrote that the treasurer's office was required by law to hold a position for Hatcher equivalent to the one he was in before being deployed.

"I want to reemphasize my earlier statement: The comments made by a member of my staff were insulting, unprofessional, unbecoming of a state employee and have no place in a public office," Milligan said in a follow-up statement Monday. "Again, he is on unpaid military leave from my office at this time. When he returns we will be discussing this situation and his role within my office."

Peterson said she's not aware of a social media policy in the state treasurer's office.

"Everybody has the right to free speech, but you have to balance that also with what you're saying and who you are as a professional," Peterson said.

State Desk on 01/24/2017

Print Headline: State employee quits after posts criticized; Milligan: Writings insult women, gays

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