Former Charleston City Paper columnist Jack Hunter found himself in hot water today after the conservative news site The Washington Free Beacon published a 2,000+ word post criticizing Hunter for controversial statements he’s made as a conservative commentator and blogger.

The Free Beacon wrote that Hunter, who has worked for former Texas Congressman Ron Paul and now works as the social media director for Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, “spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist,” questioning whether his current boss will be able to succeed where some say Ron Paul failed, in transforming into a mainstream political figure.

The Free Beacon article, which simply referred to Hunter’s “history of neo-Confederate sympathies, inflammatory statements,” kicked off a day-long interweb roast of Hunter, making the frontpage of Salon.com later in the day declaring Hunter to be “Rand Paul’s newest white supremacist.”

In a statement released on his blog, Hunter said the revelations recounted by the Free Beacon of his “not-very-hidden radio pundit background” aren’t an accurate representation of him:

The role of a radio host is different from that of a political operative. In radio, sometimes you’re encouraged to be provocative and inflammatory. I’ve been guilty of both, and am embarrassed by some of the comments I made precisely because they do not represent me today. I was embarrassed by some of them even then.

I am also no longer a guy who judges beer drinking contests in a wrestling mask. Things change. We all hopefully grow up.

I abhor racism and have always treated everyone I’ve met with dignity and respect as individuals. This was true in the past and it is true now.The controversial comments are also but a fraction of my decade of writing and talking about conservative, Tea Party and libertarian causes.

All day, Twitter was abuzz with criticisms and defenses of Hunter, who is a well-known figure in the conservative political world. Here’s a taste of how things went down:

[View the story “Jack Hunter controversy” on Storify]

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