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PA-Gov: Wagner consultant sends meme mocking Caitlyn Jenner to reporter; Dems want consultant fired

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A consultant for Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner mistakenly texted a meme mocking Caitlyn Jenner and transgenderism to a reporter, and the faux pas hit the news once the journalist discovered that three others who received the text are senior Wagner campaign officials — including campaign manager Jason High. (Photo by Christian Hofer/Getty Images)

A consultant for Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner mistakenly texted a meme mocking Caitlyn Jenner and transgenderism to a reporter, and the faux pas hit the news once the journalist discovered that three others who received the text are senior Wagner campaign officials — including campaign manager Jason High, BillyPenn reported.

Now Democrats want the consultant and High fired, WCAU-TV reported.

What does the meme say?

The meme texted by Ray Zaborney on Thursday — imitating the recent Nike ad championing Colin Kaepernick — includes a photo of Jenner along with the text, “Believe in something. Even if it means cutting your d*** off" as well as the phrase "Just do it" and the Nike swoosh, BillyPenn said.

Image source: Twitter, redacted

The Kaepernick ad — which has received harsh backlash given the former NFL quarterback made a name for himself by kneeling for the national anthem to protest police brutality — shows his face along with the text, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."

Who else received the text?

Besides High and BillyPenn reporter Max Marin, Zaborney also sent the text to finance director Jenise Harris and policy director Shauna Boscaccy, BillyPenn said, noting that Marin "was not an intended recipient."

After Marin figured out the roles the other three meme recipients play on the Wagner campaign, Zaborney's text became news.

How did the consultant respond?

Zaborney — whose Harrisburg political consulting businesses Maverick Finance and Red Maverick Media have received more than $40,000 from Wagner's campaign, WCAU said — offered the following statement.

“Anyone questioning my commitment to diversity or the LGBT community obviously doesn’t know me very well. I am a passionate believer in equality for all and have long been an advocate for marriage equality and ending discrimination in all forms against the LGBTQ community," he said, according to BillyPenn. "I’m proud of my advocacy and proud of my efforts and will continue to stand for equality.”

BillyPenn said requests for comment from Harris and Boscaccy went unreturned.

What did Wagner's campaign manager say?

High said in a statement to TheBlaze that in spite of Zaborney's text, which "poorly judged the line between humor and sensitivity," Wagner's "commitment to LGBTQ rights" shouldn't be questioned.

"Scott has been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community as both a business owner and lawmaker," he added. "He was vilified throughout the Republican primary for shepherding an anti-discrimination bill through the Senate, and even after millions in negative advertising was spent against him on the issue, he refused to back down one inch from demanding equal rights for LGBTQ individuals."

Scott Wagner (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Wagner campaign manager Andrew Romeo confirmed to TheBlaze Monday that Zaborney will continue to consult for the campaign.

What did Democrats have to say?

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party on Friday called for Wagner's campaign to "immediately fire" Zaborney and High, WCAU reported.

The organization's spokesman Mike Mikus also called Zaborney's text "despicable" and "transphobic" while saying High should be given the boot "for failing to denounce Zaborney,” the station added.

What about Wagner's 'bathroom bills' comments?

Last month, Wagner discussed “bathroom bills" at a campaign event, WCAU reported.

“It’s real simple,” he noted, according to the station. “If you’re born with male plumbing, you use the men’s room. If you’re born with female plumbing, you use the ladies’ room. Period.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, criticized Wagner's comments, the station said.

Later Wagner’s campaign said he supports transgender bathroom choice as long as individuals change their genders on their Pennsylvania drivers licenses, WCAU reported.

Wagner is challenging Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in November and trails the incumbent by 14 points — 54 percent to 40 percent — according to a recent NBC News/Marist poll.

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