Top Barbour aide resigns amid controversy
March 14th, 2011
09:50 PM ET
7 years ago

Top Barbour aide resigns amid controversy

(CNN) - The press secretary for Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour resigned Monday after Politico reported that Dan Turner wrote internal e-mails poking fun at former Attorney General Janet Reno, and that he made insensitive jokes about the earthquake in Japan.

"Gov. Haley Barbour has accepted Dan Turner's resignation as Press Secretary. Laura Hipp will now serve in that capacity," a statement for the potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate said.

The e-mails, which were a compilation of the day's press clippings, historical notes, and apparent jokes, were circulated within and outside of Barbour's official government office and were obtained by Politico. One shows that last Friday, Turner purportedly wrote, "Otis Redding posthumously received a gold record for his single, (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay. (Not a big hit in Japan right now.)"

In another e-mail, Turner supposedly wrote that when Janet Reno was confirmed to become the first female attorney general, "It took longer to confirm her gender than to confirm her law license."

Earlier e-mails also attained by Politico out Turner writing, "1982 – Jamaica issued a Bob Marley commemorative stamp. (Actually, it was a combination stamp and tiny rolling paper.)"

In another, Turner made a jab at Cambodian genocide . He wrote, "1998 – Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the 1970s genocide in Cambodia that claimed 1 million lives. ('Oops. My bad,' hardly seems sincere.)"

According to Politico, Turner vouched for Barbour's lack of awareness to the controversial jokes, stating that his boss only receives a printed copy of the clips, not the entire e-mail.

- CNN's Laura Klairmont and Peter Hamby contributed to this report

Filed under: Haley Barbour
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. vikingslost

    How to these guys get hired in the first place? Just wondering.

    My bad, look how McCain brought Serah Phalin into the mix.

    March 15, 2011 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  2. BeverlyNC

    When is Mchele Bachmann's entire staff going to resign?? They have let her make 2 HUGE STUPID statements showing her personal ignorance of American history. It would hilarious to watch Bachmann try to compete on "Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?" She would get beaten in a landslide. How a such a stupid person ever have gotten elected to Congress? It's an embarrassment to our system of government that a moron who knows nothing about our nation is part of its governing body. She is a living commercial why we need to invest more in education.

    March 15, 2011 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  3. patcee

    What a buffoon.

    March 15, 2011 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  4. Dave

    Political correctness run amok. But, that stuff is funny – timing wise on the Japan joke, not so good – but the rest are darn funny!

    March 15, 2011 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  5. Jason

    Okay, the Bob Marley joke was funny. You have to admit that. And the Cambodia joke was hardly poking fun at the genocide–rather, it was ridiculing the Khmer Rouge which, in my opinion, is 100% a fair target.
    However, I do think it is incredibly distasteful to make fun of a tragedy not even a week after it happened or to make fun of a woman for appearing manly (particularly when such a big deal is being made nowadays about the bullying of gay and transgender kids). But whatever, maybe I'm just a bit of a prude.
    Resigning was probably the right thing to do, otherwise he'd run the risk of hurting his boss politically.

    March 15, 2011 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  6. bobden

    Maybe someone could suggest to Barbour that he couldd resign from his campaign.

    March 15, 2011 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  7. sam23

    If this where just a random staff mamber i might buy it but an aide shares the values of his boss.

    March 15, 2011 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  8. Aezelll

    Gee, another Republican being a Republican. I will pretend to be surprised.

    March 15, 2011 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  9. 3wood

    Hard to believe that someone in that position would be that stupid.

    March 15, 2011 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  10. Uncle Bully

    Shocker! a GOP aid likes to send xenophobic jokes around the office. And on his way out he tries to spin it for damage control.

    So Dan, you expect us to believe that everyone else in the office got the emailed press clipping and historical notes and crude jokes ...except your boss ..who for some reason, only got hard copies of the press clippings. what Barbour didn't want the historical notes? doesn't Barbour use email or something? why would he want hard copies of stuff he could read in an email. it is the electronic age you know...... I was born at night ...not last night.

    Anyway, You reap what you sow.

    March 15, 2011 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  11. Johnson

    WOW, even if they (The Republicans) had a good candidate run for office they could NOT be trusted, they all have the same agenda and work for the same people. This guy in Mississsippi is a complete moron.

    March 15, 2011 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  12. dboy

    any of this seem surprising? not really. My guess is he'll get his own talk radio show.

    March 15, 2011 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  13. Charlie in Maine

    "Turner vouched for Barbour's lack of awareness".

    I don't know him but reading about what he has done and wants to do., count me in as well. I too would like to vouch for Gov. Barbour's lack of awareness. I am from Maine. I should know lack of awareness in a Governor when I see it.

    March 15, 2011 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  14. Russ, Monticello, FL

    Birds of a feather flock together. Callous cruds, no class.

    March 15, 2011 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  15. Terry

    The problem that the Republicans face is a nation of middle and low income voters who truly believe that the Republican Party is the political party of the rich and right-wing tea party. The argument that this feeling is wrong cannot be supported due to recent and longer term actions by the Republicans. Remember, midterm elections do not impact the White House, the American voters responsible for electing the POTUS are the very people being walked-on by the Republicans.

    March 15, 2011 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  16. johnmenacherjr

    This guy is just such a pig.

    March 15, 2011 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  17. Marie MD

    Janet Reno? How old and backwards are these people??? Making fun of the Japanese. Which part? That they actually stand in line while awaiting supplies and don't riot!?!?!?
    In one dumb e-mail barbour (whom I don't know but I think he would get a big kick out of this just by what he has said in the past) and turner have insulted women, the Japanese and African Americans.
    Wow!!! Yes, this is definitely the people we need in the WH.

    March 15, 2011 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  18. Super G

    What is so bad about those jokes. I despise republicans, but these are not hard core jokes. Maybe the one about Janet Reno, but nothing Saturday Night Live hasn't poked fun at.

    March 15, 2011 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  19. CANERY

    Well gooooolllllyy, who did not make jokes about Janet Reno. Ask for Saturday Night Live cancellation too while you are at it.

    March 15, 2011 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  20. Bob Klepak

    So if we are to believe Dan Turner, that Gov. Haley Barbour knew nothing of the politically insensitive wisecracks, we are to believe that the Governor of the Great State of Mississippi has his email censored by others, before reading it. In other words, he only gets the information his handlers want him to read. Bodes well for his Presidential aspirations that his decisions will be based on cherry-picked, pre-sanitized information. Kind of like the WMDs of Iraq. Worked so well for the last Republican President and our nation.

    March 15, 2011 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  21. Tony in Maine

    As long as Mr. Turner is loyal to his boss, whoever that person might be, he can find work writing jokes for Governor LePage in Maine.

    March 15, 2011 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  22. jules sand-perkins

    Governor Barbour will have a hard time distancing himself from humor like Dan Turner's.
    Such jokes are expected from one with a good-old-boy, Bubba mentality.

    March 15, 2011 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  23. David

    The main problem is, not only is he insensitive, but entirely unfunny.

    March 15, 2011 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  24. GOP = Greed Over People

    Explain to me again, why anyone wants the governor of the lowest ranked state out of 50, to be in charge of the other 49?

    March 15, 2011 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  25. Doug

    More Republicans mocking the serious problems in the world instead of trying to fix them.

    March 15, 2011 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
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