POLITICS
04/12/2013 01:07 pm ET Updated Apr 12, 2013

Barry Smitherman, Texas Railroad Commission Chairman, Retweets Noose With GOP Senators' Names

The chief oil and gas regulator in Texas tweeted a photo of a noose along with the names of the 16 Republican United States senators who voted to open debate on gun control legislation Thursday.

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman (R) retweeted a photo Thursday afternoon as part of a flurry of anti-gun control tweets he sent out from his personal Twitter account. The retweet lists 16 GOP senators, then includes a picture of a noose and the word "treason." The original tweet was posted by Lissa St. Clair, a self-described "crazy writer" who tweeted that people should make sure the senators don't "have seats in 2014."

Not every senator listed is up for reelection in 2014. Smitherman's tweet was retweeted eight times by late Friday morning. Among the senators listed are John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

The photo was removed from Smitherton's account shortly after noon EDT Friday. StateImpact's account, however, still shows the post. St. Clair on Friday apologized for posting the picture and said that she "didn't realize it had a noose pictured like that." She also said she would remove it from Twitter.

The radio show "NPR StateImpact" in Texas first reported the story Thursday. Smitherman and his staff could not be reached for immediate comment.

Smitherman was first appointed to the Railroad Commission by Gov. Rick Perry (R) in 2011, then was elected to a two-year term in 2012. He previously served as chairman of the Texas Public Utilities Commission, also appointed by Perry. The Texas Railroad Commission regulates the state's oil and gas industry. Smitherman is considered a likely candidate for state attorney general in 2014.

Smitherman's comment is being criticized by Progress Texas, which is demanding that Perry and the Texas congressional delegation "admonish" him.

"Barry Smitherman's reprehensible action is disturbing, disgusting, and has absolutely no place in our political discourse," Progress Texas executive director Matt Glazer said in a statement. "To suggest that any American, let alone a U.S. senator, deserves to be hung for a democratically cast vote is absolutely unacceptable."

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