"The Republican Party of Florida does not agree with any comments made by Ms. Atkinson. This is not the official position of the Republican Party of Florida."
The Republican Party of Florida on Monday condemned a recent Facebook post by Sandra Atkinson, Okaloosa County's elected GOP state committeewoman.
The post referenced Parkland school shooting survivors as “crisis actors.”
"The Republican Party of Florida does not agree with any comments made by Ms. Atkinson. This is not the official position of the Republican Party of Florida," said RPOF spokeswoman Yohana De La Torre.
The party believes statements like those made by Atkinson "deter finding a true solution to keeping our kids safe," De La Torre said. "Ms. Atkinson's opinion is not the opinion of the Republican Party of Florida."
De La Torre said the state party is advocating "sensible, comprehensive discussion" following the Valentine's Day shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Atkinson’s post — which showed a photo of Stoneman Douglas students with a group of smiling people — read, “Crisis actors and production team take a group selfie just before they have to go out and tell their heartwrenching stories on TV.”
Atkinson posted the meme Thursday, but said she had come to regret doing so by the next day. She admitted Friday that the post, made to her personal Faecebook page, helped perpetrate a cruel fiction about Stoneman Douglas students who chose to speak out against gun violence following the shooting.
“The posts I’ve seen were so convincing. Even the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., liked a similar post. I, unfortunately, got fooled,” Atkinson said. “Maybe I was too quick to jump to conclusions.”
Atkinson, who considers herself a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights, said she’s been contacted by several people who criticized her for publishing the post.
Atkinson said she had originally decided not to take the post down because she wanted people to see the mistake and know she was accepting blame. She said she decided Friday to remove the post because people were sharing it without also sharing her explanation of what had happened.
“I’m not afraid to admit when I am wrong, and ‘eating crow’ never tastes good, but I still believe the students are being used: as Rush Limbaugh said, ‘Everything they’re doing is right out of the Democrat Party’s various playbooks. It has the same enemies: the NRA and guns,’ ” the post said. “I never meant to imply in any way that lives were not affected, people were killed. It was a horrific (event) in our history in Florida and as a nation. I am sorry for this misinformation that I posted.”
Mark Franks, the chairman of the Okaloosa County Republican Party, said Friday that he knew the RPOF was aware of the Atkinson post and thought it possible the state organization would file a grievance.
De La Torre said Monday the RPOF does not file grievances.
"We receive and hear grievances that are filed," she said.