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Rep. Rich Irvin fires staffer after crude tweets surface

Primary night in 2014 was the beginning of Rich Irvin’s career as a state representative.

That was when he ran the rare write-in campaign that unseated an incumbent, defeating Republican Mike Fleck’s in the GOP primary in the 81st district. Fleck won the Democratic vote in that primary, setting up a rematch in the general election.

But a year later, Irvin was answering questions about a staffer on the day of the primary election.

Derek Greene’s Twitter account, @BIGD4134, had him listed as “Advisor/Aid to Rep. Richard Irvin|81st Legislative District” with the motto “Politics is life. Less government more fun” and his House GOP email address.

It also had a litany of statements dating back years that included misogyny, racism and homophobia, some merely distasteful but others that could be taken as threatening.

On Tuesday, a change.org petition linked to screenshots of the Twitter account, which had since been disabled, detailing some of the content, including statements Greene allegedly tweeted as far back as 2013 about Asians, blacks, women in general and feminists in particular, and homosexuals, including a newspaper picture of Fleck with a crude homophobic insult handwritten on it.

Fleck, who was the only openly homosexual Republican in the state House, had faced attacks due to his sexuality during the last election. He posted the change.org petition, started by Randy Bennett.

The petition demanded that Greene be fired. In just a few hours, it racked up 400 signatures. It is now listed as a victory.

In an email, Irvin confirmed that he had asked for and received Greene’s letter of resignation.

“This is an unfortunate situation that just came to my attention at the end of last week and has been dealt with. This type of behavior is not tolerated within our district staff and none of the negative comments posted reflect the 81st Legislative District Offices or my opinions,” he wrote.

Irvin, who consistently denied that any negative actions or statements directed against Fleck were done with his knowledge during his campaign, said he was focused on pension reform, property taxes and the state budget.

“The last thing I want is for comments made on an employee’s Twitter account prior to being hired to detract from the good work we are trying to accomplish. Therefore, I have removed the distraction,” he wrote. “I hope this can be a lesson for all young people, no matter if in high school, college, or the workforce their social media presence will affect work and career opportunities.”

Greene could not be reached for comment.

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