Updated at 1:17 p.m. with comment from protest organizers
After a group of women was arrested at state Republican Party headquarters in Bellevue on Thursday during a protest about national immigration policy, state GOP Chairwoman Susan Hutchison issued a friendly statement saying she shared their concerns.
“Like them, we agree that our immigration system is broken and we must find a solution,” Hutchison said, saying it was “unfortunate” she was in Washington, D.C., and unable to hear the protesters’ concerns.
But former state GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur had a more hostile reaction, taking to Twitter to lob personal insults at the group.
“I missed all the fun at State HQ today as the left wing witches and hags protested and got arrested. They look so old and ugly…” Wilbur tweeted.
Police arrested 33 women at the Bellevue protest, including Peggy Lynch, the wife of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. The women were arrested in an act of civil disobedience after refusing to leave when asked by the building owner.
Keith Schipper, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, said the group clearly wanted to get arrested, but did not get personally insulting toward GOP staff. “The ghost of Kirby Wilbur has no influence on the Washington State Republican Party any more. He doesn’t speak for the party,” Schipper said.
Wilbur, the former conservative talk-radio host, quit as state Republican Party chair in July to take a job with Young America’s Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Asked whether he thought his tweet was appropriate, Wilbur emailed “Yup.” He added in a subsequent email that liberals frequently call conservatives racist and said “preventing innocent people from working and conducting their business isn’t cordial in my book.”
Protest organizers were angered by Wilbur’s comment.
“We’re discouraged and appalled that the GOP’s response to a powerful action geared towards raising awareness about a substantive issue resorted to sexist name-calling and degradation,” said Rachael DeCruz, communications director for Washington CAN!, which helped organized the protest.