BISMARCK, N.D. — The lead spokeswoman for North Dakota’s Health Department has resigned over acknowledged “inappropriate” comments she accidentally posted on the agency’s Twitter account during Monday night’s presidential debate.
Colleen Reinke took jabs at Republican candidate Donald Trump, tweeting “Trump’s hair is weirder than usual.” She also criticized the performance of debate moderator Lester Holt.
Reinke told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she had meant to post the comments to her personal Twitter account but mistakenly grabbed her work cellphone rather than her personal phone while multitasking during the debate.
“I was in my living room. It was really dark,” she said. “My phones are identical. … I just got them mixed up.”
She realized her mistake when people began posting response tweets. She deleted the posts, but decided the damage was done.
“You know how it is with social media — if it’s out there for a nanosecond, it’s out there,” she said.
Reinke submitted her voluntary resignation that night, citing “my incompetency with Twitter” and “a dreadful mistake” in emails to State Health Officer Terry Dwelle and Deputy State Health Officer Arvy Smith. Smith informed Reinke in an email Wednesday that her resignation had been accepted.
“We appreciate all of the work that you have done for the Department of Health and wish you the best as you move forward,” he wrote.
The AP obtained the emails through a public records request.
Dwelle’s office referred calls for comment on Reinke’s resignation to Human Resources Director Dirk Wilke, who emailed a statement saying the Health Department “understands that mistakes can happen.”
“Colleen, however, understood the impact of the mistake due to the nature of her position” and resigned, the statement said.
Reinke had been with the agency three years, the last 2½ as the lead public information officer. She posted on her personal Twitter account Wednesday, “Resignation has been accepted. Now to try to move on. #twittercide complete.”
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