According to Politico:
Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster has apologized for alleging widespread voter fraud by mysterious groups of black people in rural parts of the state.
“It was my intention to talk not about race but about perceived voting irregularities,” Webster said in a statement, according to the Portland Press Herald . “However, my comments were made without proof of wrongdoing, and they had the unintended consequence of casting aspersions on an entire group of Americans. For that, I am truly sorry.”
Earlier this week, Webster told a local television station that “In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens, dozens of black people who came in and voted on Election Day. Everybody has a right to vote, but nobody in town knows anyone who’s black.” Maine’s Democratic Party chairman called the comments “racist,” and the state’s NAACP chapters called them “offensive and insulting.”
Webster, a longtime opponent of same-day voter registration, said he was going to investigate the alleged fraud by sending thank-you notes to voters who registered on Election Day. If the notes were returned, he would know the addresses were falsified. In his statement Thursday, he said he was dropping the plan to investigate.
Webster’s apology amounted to a sudden reversal. As late as Thursday afternoon, he was still defending his comments in an interview with Talking Points Memo. “There’s nothing about me that would be discriminatory,” he said . “I know black people. I play basketball every Sunday with a black guy. He’s a great friend of mine. Nobody would ever accuse me of suggesting anything.”