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A former chairman of the South Carolina Election Commission has apologized after his posting on Facebook suggested a gorilla that escaped form a Columbia zoo was an ancestor of first lady Michelle Obama.

Minutes after the gorilla’s escape was reported Friday, Rusty DePass posted: “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors — probably harmless.”

The comment has since been deleted, but DePass confirmed to WIS-TV that he made it, apologizing and saying it was a joke about statements Obama has made about evolution.

DePass is a former chairman of the Richland County Republican Party. He didn’t respond to a phone message Saturday from The Associated Press.

Former state Republican chairman Katon Dawson says the comment was sad and disappointing.

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