- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Alabama’s GOP chairman distanced the party Thursday from a state representative’s Facebook exhortation to support American-owned stores and shun foreign-owned ones.

A post on Rep. Alan Harper’s Facebook page Monday said foreign convenience store owners “in large part” send money to their countries of origin “to create turmoil, fear and in some cases death and destruction” in the United States.

He said convenience stores and tobacco shops with “lights around the windows and doors are not owned by God fearing Christians.” Harper added that he realized he was making a generalization “but the madness has to stop.”

The post had been shared more than 400 times and generated national attention before it was removed from Harper’s timeline. Harper, of Northport, chairs the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee and is listed as a member of several others.

Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan said in a written statement that Harper’s comments were very concerning.

“Mr. Harper is certainly welcome to his own personal opinion on any topic, but his statements absolutely do not represent the views of the Republican Party,” Lathan said.

“As an elected official, his constituents will be the final judge of his remarks, but in the end, he alone is the sole author of his statement and beliefs,” she said.

Harper represents House District 61 which spans Greene, Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties in western Alabama. Multiple voice messages, an email and a text message to Harper have not been returned.

Bart Fletcher, president of Petroleum and Convenience Marketers of Alabama, said Harper’s statement was disappointing and a majority of retailers operating in Alabama are honest, hard-working people.

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