Govt agency fires staffer after profane Trump tweet

Meg Kinnard
Associated Press

South Carolina’s public health agency said Friday that an employee had been fired after posting a profanity-laced message critical of President Donald Trump in the wake of a deadly school shooting that left 17 dead.

A tweet posted Wednesday from the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s official account called Trump a “tool,” modified by an expletive, and had #ParklandStudentsSpeak attached. Since last week’s deadly shooting, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have spoken out in favor of gun control.

Agency spokesman Tommy Crosby told The Associated Press on Friday that the employee had intended to post the message from a personal Twitter account and had sent it using agency equipment, a violation of internal policy.

But Crosby refused to confirm whether or not chief spokesman Tim Kelly was still employed by the agency, saying the agency “does not discuss personnel matters.” He did however, upon request, provide an updated list of communications staff that did not include Kelly’s name.

Previously, Kelly told The State newspaper that he did not believe any agency employee had been responsible for the message.

Twitter records the previous 40 logins and IP addresses of a user’s account, which can be accessed easily in the account’s settings menu. Asked Thursday by the AP if the agency had checked those logins to see if there had been unauthorized usage at the time the tweet was sent, Kelly refused to answer questions or elaborate further on what happened.

Following an open-records request from the AP for the account’s login history – as well as a list of employees with access to the account, and a copy of the agency’s social media use policies - Crosby took over media communications.

Since that time, messages to Kelly have gone unanswered.