A Naperville Democrat who serves on the Will County Board is denouncing a social media post promoting an “All Republicans are Racist” fundraiser, saying the post and the account it came from are fake.
The post appeared Monday on an Instagram account using the same name as Indivisible Naperville and referred to a cook-off fundraiser for the Wheatland Township Democrats. In addition, the post listed Will County Board member Mimi Cowan as a contact for the event.
Cowan is vice chair of the Wheatland Township Democrats and is involved with Indivisible Naperville. But she insists she had nothing to do with the now-deleted Instagram post.
“First and foremost, neither I nor the Wheatland Township Democrats are hosting or involved with any event called All Republicans are Racist,” Cowan said. “I would not be. I have not said that, and I would not say that. I do not believe all Republicans are racist.”
Cowan and Indivisible Naperville organizers say the Instagram page by the same name does not represent Indivisible Naperville, a local chapter of a national organization.
The post — deleted after Indivisible Naperville contacted Instagram — prompted phone calls to Cowan and social media posts by Republican organizations and politicians urging people to contact Cowan to voice their objection to the event.
The Wheatland Township Democrats did plan to host a cook-off fundraiser on May 21, and cook-off entrants were required to use a spice from Penzeys Spices store in Naperville in their recipe, according to a guide for contestants.
The national spice chain has come under fire for its posts attacking Republicans. In January, the company touted a “Republicans are Racist” promotion, in which customers could “cheese off racists for free” by getting a free half-cup jar of Mexican Oregano, China Cinnamon or Penzeys Curry with a purchase. The promotion drew thousands of comments on the company’s Facebook page and garnered national media coverage.
In its guide for the cook-off, the Wheatland Township Democrats said it chose Penzeys because of a shared distaste for Republicans.
“Just like the Wheatland Dems, Penzeys Spices is known for their enthusiastic distaste for Republicans,” the fundraiser guide states, pointing contestants to a statement about Republicans on the Penzeys website.
Cowan said she had not talked to Penzeys about the cook-off. While she did not condone language characterizing all Republicans as racist, she said, Penzeys has expressed support for issues such as same-sex marriage, climate change, Black Lives Matter and immigration.
Some Republican county board members, however, saw things differently.
“Penzeys has said some vitriolic things,” Will County Board member Raquel Mitchell, a Bolingbrook Republican, said Thursday.
Information about the cook-off fundraiser is no longer available on social media. Cowan said it remained unclear if the event would go on as planned.
Indivisible Naperville, founded in 2017, has called on Instagram to close the spoof account using its name, but to no avail. Now the group is working with an attorney and taking steps to have the spoof account shut down.
“These impostors are staging a carefully crafted plot to damage our reputation and others who share the values we promote,” said Nancy Turner, one of the organizers of Indivisible Naperville. “The impostors seem to be extremists that would be outcasts in any legitimate political party, engaging in malicious activity and hiding their activity.”
An attempt to reach the administrator of the Instagram account using the Indivisible Naperville name was unsuccessful.