Youngkin Campaign Criticized for Twitter Spat With Teenager

Team Youngkin removed the tweet late Sunday morning but offered no apology.

Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign sparked controversy for lashing out at a high school student on Twitter, revealing the 17-year-old's name and photo after they shared a news story about part of the governor's mansion where slaves once lived.

The student, Ethan Lynne, retweeted a Richmond public radio station's report Saturday that suggested Youngkin might be scrapping efforts pursued under two previous governors to highlight the history of enslaved people at the mansion, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The radio station's report contained an error, which Lynne noted on Twitter hours later after the station issued a correction.

By then, “Team Youngkin,” the official Twitter account for the governor's campaign, had posted a photo of Lynne with former Gov. Ralph Northam at a Democratic fundraiser in October.

“Here’s a picture of Ethan with a man that had a Blackface/KKK photo in his yearbook,” Team Youngkin tweeted shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday, pairing the October photo with a racist picture from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook that surfaced in 2019.

Democrats responded immediately, calling on Youngkin to apologize to Lynne. The attack on Northam drew less notice, since Northam is a public figure and adult, although it ran counter to Youngkin’s public expressions of thanks toward the Democrat for an “incredibly cooperative” transition.

Team Youngkin removed the tweet late Sunday morning but offered no apology.

Lynne, in an interview with the Post on Sunday, said “A governor’s campaign account has attacked a minor — to me that was a new low." He said the campaign's tweet was deleted after more than 12 hours, adding, “I received no apology, no communication, nothing.”

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter did not respond to questions from the Post about the tweet. Matt Wolking, a Youngkin campaign spokesman who continues to work for the governor as a strategist at Axiom Strategies, responded to questions sent to Porter but didn't say who wrote the tweet.

Wolking said Team Youngkin decided to remove the message after belatedly learning that Lynne — identified on Twitter as “Virginian. HS Senior. Democrat.” — was a minor. Wolking called Lynne a “Democrat Party official” and suggested that Democrats had made Lynne a fair target by previously promoting him on Twitter.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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