A Tennessee lawmaker has launched quite a controversy in the heat of the presidential election.
The Republican state representative sent out an email that promotes a conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama plans to stage a fake assassination.
While the email was sent from a staffer's email address, it was reportedly done so at the direction of Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown.
Now, Keisling is apologizing in the face of criticism from Democrats.
Keisling has represented part of East Tennessee, including Clay, Jackson, Pickett and Scott counties, and part of Anderson County, for the past two years.
The email was taken from a blog post about an alleged plot by the president to stage an assassination attempt in order to declare martial law and delay the November election.
"I think if the Republicans spent less time promoting these wacko conspiracy theories, they might actually be able to pass a jobs bill - the sort we used to see under Gov. Bredesen," said State Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.
Keisling declined a phone interview Wednesday, but he did release the following statement:
"Earlier this week, I forwarded an email from my legislative office that should not have been sent out. The message was inappropriate for distribution. I regret the error and pledge to be more cautious regarding the information distributed from my office in the future."
Since the message came from a state email address, Democrats are calling it an abuse of power and waste of taxpayer dollars.
Stewart said it's past time for Republican leaders to step up and stop these actions.
"I think what the pattern is that Republican leaders have not been willing to have courage to stand up and say, 'we're not going to promote every wacky right-wing, far-out idea just because someone puts it on the internet.' That's not something lawmakers should do, of either party," Stewart said.
Keisling does not face an opponent in Thursday's primary election, but he does have a Democratic opponent in the November elections.
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