Hardware store fires county GOP official over comments

The controversy over a Big Stone County Republican official’s anti-Muslim comments escalated a bit today when it was reported that Jack Whitley has been fired from his day job.

The Star Tribune reports that the owners of a Hardware Hank store in Ortonville, Minnesota, posted on Facebook that Whitley’s rant was too much.

It is with regret and shock that we feel we must address the comments that one of our employees made last week. While we support every American’s right to free speech, we certainly cannot condone the inflammatory remarks against Muslims and others. This is NOT a view we share and we are saddened to know that this has become such a horrible reflection on Big Stone County, our community, and our business.

I’m not sure when it became the norm for one individual with flawed thinking to become the spokesperson for an entire area. How is it OK for his words to be dumped on all of us as our collective belief? This is so far from the truth it is amazing to think that it is even considered that we all feel the same.

We have already felt the ramifications of this individuals actions and it’s been suggested both locally and statewide on the MPR website that our business should be boycotted as long as he works there. We have also felt the love and support from the people and other businesses when we were in town over the weekend and we thank you for that.

Let’s be clear. At no time were we aware of this person’s views. At no time were these views expressed within our presence and had they been, we would have dealt with it immediately. Having said that, it is clear that this person has brought shame to us personally, to our business, our community, our county and the Republican Party. His actions must be addressed and for our part we will definitely do so. We will not tolerate this type of bigotry within our business family.

We have always tried to be inclusive when dealing with the public. Everyone is welcome n our stores and will be treated with respect and common courtesy. If that has not been the case, please let us know.
As we enter the holiday season, let’s take this opportunity to extend a hand to others – of all races, religions, and ethnic backgrounds. Let’s show the state and the world that we are better than this one individual and his flawed thinking. Let’s show them who the people of this area REALLY are!

Peace to all,
Bob and Sue Kulbeik

The Republican Party has not indicated whether Whitley will lose his county party leadership position because of his anti-Muslim comments.