Former state Election Commission Chairman Rusty DePass read a statement during an NAACP news conference Wednesday in Columbia, saying his comments were offensive and foolish.
DePass also said he apologized to the first lady in a letter. He would not release the letter.
Minutes after the report of a brief gorilla escape from a Columbia zoo Friday, DePass posted on a Facebook page that he was sure "it's just one of Michelle's ancestors - probably harmless." The posting then was publicized on a state politics blog.
NAACP President Lonnie Randolph said the apology was an improvement on DePass' earlier attempt to defend his comments.