Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett

Maine Democrats are increasing the pressure on a Republican state senator who last week posted a conservative meme on Facebook suggesting that members of the ruthless terrorist group ISIS are family members of President Obama.

Sen. Mike Willette, R-Presque Isle, on Monday apologized for sharing the post publicly, but neither for the message that the post conveyed nor for tapping an undercurrent of bigotry that has followed the president since taking office in 2009.

Mike Tipping, a liberal activist, on Tuesday published a number of Willette’s older Facebook posts showing that the March 1 post wasn’t an isolated incident. In several posts, Willette expresses sentiments or republishes memes aligned with the discredited birther theory — that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Some posts express outright disdain for Muslims, while others channel xenophobic beliefs about immigrants. In one post, Willette shares a post from the Comical Conservative that expresses admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2013 speech to the Duma about immigrants. In that speech, Putin says Russia will pursue rigorous policies against immigrants, and Muslims in particular.

“Russia does not need Muslim minorities. Minorities need Russia, and we will not grant them special privileges, or try to change our laws to fit their desires, no matter how loud they yell ‘discrimination’. We will not tolerate disrespect of our Russian culture. We had better learn from the suicides of America, England, Holland and France, if we are to survive as a nation. The Muslims are taking over those countries and they will not take over Russia. The Russian customs and traditions are not compatible with the lack of culture or the primitive ways of Sharia Law and Muslims. When this honorable legislative body thinks of creating new laws, it should have in mind the Russian national interest first, observing that the Muslim minorities are not Russians.”

In another post, Willette wrote about Muslims, “Round them up and air drop them back into the rubble and hell holes from whence they came.”

There are many others.

Democrats are calling for a rebuke from the Maine Republican Party and, Tipping noted that Willette remains the Senate chairman of the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee.

We reported Monday that Rick Bennett, the chairman of the Maine Republican, could not be reached for comment. As it turns out, Bennett left a voicemail Monday evening.

“We at the party appreciate Sen. Willette’s apology and his expression of regret about a regrettable thing to say,” Bennett said. “That’s all I really have to say on the matter.”