David Johnson, chairman of the Columbiana County Republican Party in Ohio, came under fire on Monday after he said that the deadly wildfires in California are "God's punishment" to liberals.
Johnson posted an image of the fires on Facebook with text that read: "God's Punishment to Liberal California."
"Hell on Earth: brought to you by the Liberals in California!" another image said.
Democrats responded with outrage, according to WFMJ.
“As we pray for our fellow Americans who have lost everything including their loved ones, this is the disgusting response to the climate-change denying leader of the Columbiana County GOP," one reply to Johnson said.
Johnson eventually removed the messages from his Facebook page, but Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras called for the GOP chair to resign.
“Hundreds of firefighters, other First Responders, and volunteers put their lives at risk in an attempt to rescue victims,” Betras wrote. “I've been asking myself why anyone would politicize or make light of this very real human tragedy.”
In a statement to WFMJ, Johnson defended the messages he posted on Facebook.
"California has been overtaken by liberals who have taxed and over-regulated the state," Johnson opined. "There are changes that could have been made which would have helped prevent the deadly fires had there been proper management of forests, but the timber industry is not allowed. The firefighters and people's lives should never have been put in jeopardy. They did not have to die and people did not have to lose their lives, homes, and everything they own."
"The point of the meme is that the people and firefighters lives could have been spared if not for the liberal policies in California," he added. "The point of the meme is being exploited by Mahoning Democratic Party Chairman David Betras to cover his miserable performance in the last election and if anyone should resign Betras should resign."