Two employees of J.B. Pritzker’s campaign have been fired after posting a photo on social media showing one of the staffers wearing a charcoal face mask.
According to the office for the Democratic candidate for governor the photo “showed poor judgment” but “neither employee intended to take part in the offensive behavior,” referring to blackface.
A screenshot of the social media post obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times showed a worker in a “JB & Juliana for Illinois” shirt with the black skincare product covering his face. The photo, which was shared on a private Instagram account, was accompanied with the caption “psycho” written over it.
“The individual in the photo had applied and was wearing a charcoal face mask after work hours on the weekend,” Pritzker’s campaign said in a statement.
Initially, the campaign said the employees were suspended without pay, but by Friday afternoon, both were said to be fired.
One of the employees, Carolyn Mehta, said that the photo was "taken completely out of context.
"The screen shot was submitted by a member of our staff who follows me on Instagram and is suing the campaign for $7.5 million," she said. "It was taken completely out of context. This is extortion in the purest form. In 2012, I worked on President Obama's re-election campaign. I worked on a team to register 10,000 new voters on the South Side of Chicago. I have been a tireless advocate for racial equality my entire life and anyone who knows me knows that."
The post comes just days after past and former staffers of J.B. Pritzker’s campaign filed a lawsuit alleging a pattern of racial discrimination and harassment within the campaign.
Pritzker said there was no basis for the accusations being made.
It also comes as NBC News canceled “Megyn Kelly Today” following a firestorm of criticism surrounding the anchor’s remarks about the use of blackface.