Jeb Bush's 2016 campaign hasn't officially launched yet, but it's already hit its first major blunder.
The former Florida governor's PAC announced Tuesday that one of its newest staffers had resigned after past inflammatory comments he made about women and minorities came to light.
Ethan Czahor, who was hired Monday as the chief technology officer for Gov. Bush's political action committee, Right to Rise, stepped down from the post on Tuesday.
"The Right to Rise PAC accepted Ethan Czahor's resignation today," Kristy Campbell, the PAC's spokesperson, said in a statement. "While Ethan has apologized for regrettable and insensitive comments, they do not reflect the views of Governor Bush or his organization and it is appropriate for him to step aside. We wish him the best."
Mr. Czahor's time on Bush's nascent campaign was troubled from the start.
As soon as the press reported on the hire of the Hipster.com founder, BuzzFeed found some 45 offensive tweets that Czahor had deleted. The tweets, written between 2009 and 2011, referred to women as "sluts," and made derogatory comments about African Americans and homosexuals.
Among the offensive tweets:
new study confirms old belief: college female art majors are sluts, science majors are also sluts but uglier
most people don’t know that "halloween" is German for "night that girls with low self-esteem dress like sluts"
when i burp in the gym i feel like it's my way of saying, "sorry guys, but i'm not gay"
the golds gym in San Francisco has a wide selection of free weights, machines, and men who undress you with there eyes while you work out
i know lindsey lohan is supposed to die soon, but i’d sure like to sleep with her before that happens
Within an hour of the offensive comments surfacing, Czahor posted a new tweet, his first in months.
As inappropriate as the tweets were, the Bush office didn't ask Czahor to step down – at least not immediately.
“Governor Bush believes the comments were inappropriate,” a Bush spokesperson told BuzzFeed Monday. “They have been deleted at our request. Ethan is a great talent in the tech world and we are very excited to have him on board the Right to Rise PAC.”
On Tuesday, the press unearthed more dirt from Czahor's rich Internet past, including, among other things, a 2008 blog post found by The Huffington Post, that praised Martin Luther King Jr. for not wearing "pants sagged to his ankles."
"First of all, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a well-dressed, extremely well-spoken man; he didn't have his pants sagged to his ankles, and he wasn't delivering his speech in "jibberish" or "slang" (ie. he wasn't speaking like a rapper)," Czahor said in January 2008 remarks while hosting the radio program "The Ethan Show" at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania.
By Tuesday evening, one day after his hire, Czahor was forced to step down.
The incident was the first significant episode of drama in the nascent Bush campaign, which thus far, is probably the GOP's strongest in terms of name recognition and fund-raising.
How much will it hurt Jeb Bush?
For a man who styles himself as a modern, tech-savvy, compassionate conservative, Jeb's sensitivity-troubled hire is an embarrassment.
Bush has worked to build a reputation as a thoughtful, open-minded politician trying to distance himself from some of the more conservative, strident voices in the party today. Only Tuesday, in the interest of transparency, Bush released some eight years worth of e-mails from his Florida governorship, to try to paint a picture of an absorbed state chief executive who reads and answers missives from constituents. Against this backdrop, Czahor's comments were particularly embarrassing.
That said, the incident is probably not much more than an embarrassment. For starters, the episode occurred early in the not-yet-officially-launched campaign, the offending staffer was not a close friend or associate of Bush's, and he was quickly sacked. (Though the Bush team still hesitated and defended Czahor before letting him go.)
Still, Bush would be wise to draw lessons from the gaffe.
First, the cardinal rule of campaigns – vet. How Bush's team hired Czahor without proper vetting is bewildering, but it's likely they won't make that mistake again.
That's especially true in modern campaigns, where increasing numbers of staffers, like Czahor, have come of age in a social media landscape, where fleeting thoughts and opinions can instantly be shared (and can linger for years) with an infinite audience via Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.
We've seen it before, most recently with Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock's communications director, who resigned over racially insensitive Facebook posts, and Tennessee Representative Stephen Fincher's aide, who resigned because she Facebooked some critical opinions about the First Family.
For a man who prides himself on his tech-savvy – Bush likes to say, “I was digital before digital was cool,” - the former governor has been given a high-profile reminder that technology is a double-edged sword.