Pro-Trump organizer has a history of making obscene posts to Twitter
Local Republican leaders are distancing themselves from a party activist after learning of indecent comments made on social media.
In recent months, Brian Braaten, an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, has used his Twitter account as a platform to share his oftentimes racist and bigoted views with his 364 followers.
Braaten has referred to former First Lady Michelle Obama as a "skank" and Hillary Clinton a "crooked liar bitch nazi." In one repulsive post, he called the Obamas "thugs" and "anti-American negroes."
Reached Monday afternoon, Olmsted County Republican Party Chair Aaron Miller said Braaten has no formal role within the party.
"I find them reprehensible," Miller said of Braaten's social media posts. "He's not associated with us now, and I don't see him being involved with us in the future."
Over the weekend, Braaten organized a small rally outside the local Republican headquarters in support of President Trump. The event, one of many held across the country on Saturday, was not sanctioned by the local GOP — leading to a dispute between marchers and party officials.
Miller told us he did not mind that Braaten had organized the rally. "It's an activist organizing," he said. However, when Miller arrived to party headquarters on Saturday, he was surprised to see Braaten and a few others using the office. (Braaten, who recently started volunteering with the GOP, has a key to the office.)
"I told them it's not the way we do things, that we have a process in place," said Miller. He told the group they could exercise their First Amendment rights in the parking lot, just not the office.
We reached out to Braaten for comment, but he declined to speak with us. According to Miller, though, Braaten was one of the first people he can remember locally to come out in support of Trump.
Braaten's enthusiasm for the president even helped him land his photo on the front page of the Post-Bulletin back in December. The paper named Trump's election as the top political story of the year, and interviewed Braaten to get the perspective of a local supporter.
"I could just sense that [Trump] was for the working guy," said Braaten, a classic car dealer in Rochester. "That's what our country needs — put everybody back to work."
A resident of rural Olmsted County, Braaten serves in an official capacity on the Rochester Town Board. The township, located to the southwest of the City of Rochester, has a population of 1,629 (2010).
The town board is mainly concerned with road maintenance and residential development, said Douglas H. Butler, the board's chair. Representatives are elected every three years at public meetings. About 50 people show up to vote during a typical election.
When informed about the social media posts, Butler said he could not recall Braaten ever making any inappropriate statements while serving in his role as an elected representative.
"Nothing we do is very controversial," said Butler.
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Cover graphic: Screenshot from Twitter