Mark Williams, the controversial anti-Islamic chairman of Tea Party Express, is stepping down from that role.
Williams said in an e-mail today that he will step aside as chairman and into a reduced role of spokesman and featured speaker at Tea Party Express events.
A Sacramento-based talk radio host, Williams has a fraught relationship with the Tea Party movement. He has written some fairly vicious anti-Muslim posts at his blog, MarkTalk, referring to Muslims as the "animals of allah" and including some anti-Islam artwork of a red-eyed Muhammad under a burning swastika. He has also called President Obama an "Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug." Other Tea Party leaders have refused to work with Tea Party Express because of Williams. (I profiled the group and the controversy that surrounds Mark Williams several weeks ago on this blog.)
Williams is reducing his role to focus on opposing the mosque planned for construction near Ground Zero in New York and his efforts to recall Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn and run for his seat. (Williams formerly supported the Gray Davis recall efforts.)
"The Tea Party Express is in need of somebody who can attend to a hands-on chairmanship full time, we are simply getting too big and have too many projects going on to do otherwise," Williams said in an e-mail. He's been described as someone who "comes and goes" from Tea Party Express, emceeing rallies and being paid a few thousand dollars as a consultant.
"It was also my determination that we have reached a point where my value as a hight profile media figure will soon detract from our mission, which is to give voice to the unrepresented and elect conservative candidates and I worked too hard on this thing to let that happen," Williams said.
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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.