Apology made over racial remark

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COLUMBIA — A former South Carolina election official has apologized for his Internet posting that compared a gorilla to an ancestor of Michelle Obama.

Former state Election Commission Chairman Rusty DePass read a statement during an NAACP news conference today in Columbia, saying his comments were offensive and foolish.

Mr. 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, Mr. 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 Mr. DePass' earlier attempt to defend his comments.

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