PORTLAND — A conservative advocacy group has fired a reporter for its newly established online news service after he was accused of having a history of making racist comments.

Lance Dutson, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, released a statement to a political blog, “The Tipping Point,” announcing that reporter Leif Parsell no longer works for the organization. Parsell was a State House reporter for the center’s news service, “The Maine Wire.”

Maine Public Broadcasting Network reports that Parsell’s name has been linked to online comments with racial overtones. One comment attributed to Parsell says racial and ethnic diversity “degrades” society.

Parsell told the station his statements were misconstrued and that labeling him a racist is a “ridiculous characterization.” He further said his online comments were irrelevant to his job.