A Brookfield village trustee candidate came under fire last week for posts on his personal Facebook page that promoted right-wing conspiracy theories, demonized immigrants and denigrated women.
Tom Galbraith, who is running as part of a slate calling itself the Brookfield Community Party, defended the posts as responses to left-wing friends and family members who criticized President Donald Trump, whom Galbraith supports.
He also tried to downplay their significance, claiming the posts didn’t represent his real views and that Facebook didn’t reflect reality. Galbraith’s Facebook page was public until earlier this month, when he made it private.
“Facebook is not a reality, and I don’t think people realize that,” said Galbraith in response to being confronted by Brookfield resident Mark McCann about his social media presence at a candidate meet-and-greet hosted by Indivisible Brookfield at Slager’s on 47th on Feb. 19.
“I post things on Facebook against the people that are posting kill Trump and kill Trump and kill Trump,” Galbraith said, “just to show that it goes both ways.”
Galbraith, 48, repeated that message during the Landmark’s endorsement interview with all six candidates for village trustee at a meeting Feb. 22 at the Landmark’s offices, where he also said he had nothing to apologize for.
“I don’t apologize for what my beliefs are,” said Galbraith at the Landmark interview. “My whole family’s progressives, liberals … when they post things that are so far off the wall from the far left, I throw out the stuff from the far right. That doesn’t mean that that’s the way I live my life.
As an example of how the posts didn’t reflect his own values, Galbraith said he coached girls as old as 17 and 18 years old and that “I push them to be stronger women physically and mentally and to know they are the best and can do anything they want.”
Last October, he commented “that’s awesome” to a meme shared to his Facebook timeline depicting a woman falling off a ladder while cleaning the side of a house with the words “It was at this moment Becky knew she should stick to making sammiches.”
Another meme Galbraith personally shared showed former President Bill Clinton sitting next to his daughter, Chelsea. Bill Clinton is depicted as saying, “I didn’t rape that ugly one, did I?” To which Chelsea Clinton responds, “Dad, that’s mom,” in reference to Hillary Clinton.
Commenting on a Business Insider article he shared about Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, Galbraith refers to the former first lady as “Moochelle.”
Other memes shared by Galbraith push various right-wing conspiracy theories about illegal immigrants voting in large numbers, engaging in drug trafficking and sex trafficking and receiving cash from the government. Often the memes come from right-wing websites such as Zero Hedge, Judicial Watch, LifeZette and Breitbart.
One meme Galbraith shared last December, purportedly depicting facts about health care in Venezuela, was taken from the Facebook page of ACT for America, an organization labeled as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Asked if he understood that by sharing such posts publicly people might get the impression, he, in fact, did support the content, Galbraith replied, “Not by people that know me.”
Asked how Brookfield’s Hispanic population, which is roughly 20 percent, might react to posts pushing conspiracies about drug trafficking and violent crimes being committed by “illegal” Hispanic immigrants in particular, Galbraith told the Landmark they would probably agree with him.
“I bet a lot of them would agree that they would prefer to have illegal immigration stopped,” Galbraith said.
Galbraith’s running mates, Mark Rogers and Joshua Jones, attempted to defuse the criticism but also acknowledged it.
“We work for everybody in town no matter your background, ethnicity, preferences,” said Rogers, who added he feared for Galbraith’s safety at the Indivisible meet-and-greet after samples of Galbraith’s posts were emailed to him. “You come to us, we’re going to help.”
Jones said he had talked with Galbraith about his social media habits and explained to him that others’ perceptions of Galbraith based on his posts would be their reality.
“There is always that view of what you post is what you are,” Jones said, “and it was a valuable lesson, and it was a tough lesson to learn. … What is portrayed and what someone’s perception of someone is, that’s the reality. If their perception of a situation is tough or you’re mean, or you’re rude, or you’re racist, that’s their reality. And we’re going to work better to change that.”