HHS Welcomes Back Official Who Shared Bigoted Social Media Posts

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reinstated one its employees after suspending her last month following reports that she shared  in 2016 and 2017.

Ximena Barreto, who was appointed to be the department’s deputy director of communications in December 2017, was placed on administrative leave while the agency conducted a review of her social media accounts.

With the review complete, Barreto has been permitted to return to work in a role outside of the public affairs office, an HHS official told HuffPost. The department has not received any complaints related to Barreto’s conduct during her tenure, the official said.

Barreto apologized in a statement for making what she termed “emotionally-charged comments,” as .

“In the heated and hyper-passionate political campaign environment, I made generalized comments regarding race relations & radical Islam,” Barreto said. “I fully understand that these emotionally-charged comments were hurtful, & I deeply apologize to members of both communities.”

“I love America and its people,” she added in the statement. “I have many, many friends of all races and religions, and I look forward to working hand-in hand with them all as we labor to improve our nation for future generations. America is the land of opportunity, I hope for the opportunity of understanding and forgiveness.”

HHS suspended Barreto after progressive media watchdog  reported on offensive social media posts she shared as a fringe right-wing political commentator before her appointment to the agency.

Using the screen name “RepublicanChick” on her personal website and social media accounts, Barreto repeatedly attacked Islam, calling the religion a “cult” that has “no place” in the U.S. She also peddled the “ and conspiracy theories.

In May 2017, she retweeted an image saying that America’s forefathers would have “” former President  and  for treason. Roughly three months later, she shared an image of Obama labeled as a “Muslim terrorist.”

Ximena Barreto shared tweet archive via CNN One of the posts shared by Ximena Barreto, who under the Trump administration had been appointed deputy director of communications at the Department of Health and Human Services.

As noted by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, the department’s statement did not address Barreto’s social media posts on conspiracy theories or Obama being “hung.”

Other officials have left their positions after media outlets combed through their social media accounts. Todd Johnson, a former aide to ’s presidential campaign,  as a Defense Department staffer after CNN reported on his past racist and Islamophobic posts.

In September 2017, as the head of the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs after  he shared in 2016 surfaced.

This article has been updated with additional information from the HHS official and from Barreto’s statement.