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Controversial Rand Paul aide leaving

July 22, 2013 at 2:58 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) -- A former radio host and controversial aide to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who said he toasts John Wilkes Booth's birthday is leaving his post, officials said.

Jack Hunter, the 39-year-old former "Southern Avenger" conservative radio host who helped Paul write a book and left his punditry role in South Carolina to become Paul's social media director last August, came under fire in May for comments he made about the Civil War and Spanish-speaking immigrants, Politico reported Monday.

"Although Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth's heart was in the right place, the Southern Avenger does regret that Lincoln's murder automatically turned him into a martyr," the Washington publication quoted Hunter as saying on his radio program in 2004.

He went on to say he "raise[s] a personal toast every May 10 to celebrate John Wilkes Booth's birthday."

After the remarks were originally published in The Washington Free Beacon, Hunter released a statement that said he was doing his job as a radio host to "provoke and inflame."

A statement from Paul's communications director said all of the Tea Party senator's staff are required to treat people equally under the law -- and found no evidence Hunter had violated that principle.

"I abhor racism and I have never advocated anything other than equal protection under the law for all people," Hunter's statement read.

Paul's office did not release a statement on Hunter's departure and Hunter himself couldn't be reached to comment.

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