Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Thursday fired a top official in his administration after he compared illegal immigrants to Satan during a Facebook debate over a controversial bumper sticker declaring "open season" on undocumented foreigners.
Steven Kreiser, an assistant deputy at the state Department of Transportation, was fired from his $96,628-a-year job less than two hours after the Republican governor learned about his social media postings, reports The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Kreiser's "Satan" response came after former Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Joe Handrick, whose district has numerous Hispanics, made a comment about illegal immigrants, saying that "about 2000 years ago there lived a man who, if he came here, would be considered a foreigner, had olive skin, and didn't speak English. His name was Jesus."
Kreiser responded "You may see Jesus when you look at them. I see Satan
The now former transportation official offered some more strong words about immigrants, saying at one point in his text debate that a "stream of wretched criminals" has been coming across the border to "completely" ruin states and industries while breeding "the animus" Americans feel about them.
"And if they don't like it here, hey, the door they came through to get here swings both ways," Kreiser added.
Walker, in his first term as Wisconsin's governor and often mentioned as possible 2016 presidential contender, was swift to denounce Kreiser's words in a statement issued by his spokesman Tom Evenson.
"These comments are repugnant, completely unacceptable, and have no place in Gov. Walker's administration," Evenson said. "Governor Walker condemns his views, and they do not represent the governor or his administration in any way."
Milwaukee-based newspaper publisher Victor Huyke, who owns the Hispanic newspaper El Conquistador, applauded Walker for doing the right thing.
"We can't have these elected and appointed officials saying these types of insensitive things," said Huyke, who made a small donation to Walker in 2010.
State Rep. Josh Zepnick, a Milwaukee Democrat who shared a photo of the bumper sticker on Facebook and was involved in the online discussion, said Krieser's comments were "despicable" and have no place in state government.
He said Walker must have realized Krieser's views were a liability to his administration.
For his part, Krieser apologized for comparing illegal immigrants to Satan, calling it a "poor choice of words." He said he had taken down his Facebook comments, which he stressed had not been posted on state-paid time or using a state computer.
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