COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The spokesperson for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has been fired after his posts criticizing former President Donald Trump resurfaced on social media.
Rob Nichols, a Republican communications operative who had served as LaRose’s press secretary since 2021, was let go on Tuesday due to posts he shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, three sources with knowledge of the situation told NBC News. Nichols, reached by phone, declined to comment to the network.
Mary Cianciolo, interim press secretary, confirmed to NBC4 on Wednesday that Nichols is no longer employed by the secretary of state’s office. Before working for LaRose, Nichols was employed by the Ohio Business Roundtable under former U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi and for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Nichols’ firing stemmed from several anti-Trump posts, which sources told NBC he made through an X account under the username “@rnich99,” including disparaging the former president’s weight. The account responded on July 15 to criticism of GOP presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by posting “If you want to comment on appearances, have at it fata**,” with a picture of Trump, screenshots show.
“@realDonaldTrump how many times has Desantis been impeached? How many rape settlements has he agreed to?” another screenshotted post read. “Has he spent $40 million in campaign donor money to pay a bunch of lawyers for his own transgressions?”
The X account has since been deleted. Still, Republicans on X continued sharing screenshots this week of anti-Trump posts shared from the account and publicly criticized LaRose for continuing to employ Nichols.
“A current senior comms staffer for Ohio Senate candidate @FrankLaRose just deleted his entire account on here, after he was exposed for repeatedly attacking Trump over the past several months,” posted Andrew Surabian, a Republican strategist. “Frank the Fraud and his entire RINO team have always been anti-Trump.”
A candidate in the GOP primary to face Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2024, LaRose is challenging businessman Bernie Moreno and state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) for the nomination and Trump’s endorsement. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) has already backed Moreno.
LaRose’s campaign came one month before Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal led by the secretary of state to make it more difficult for citizens to amend the constitution. Issue 1 would have raised the bar for constitutional amendments to pass to 60%, instead of a simple majority. It also would have enacted stricter signature requirements to put citizen-initiated amendments on the ballot in the first place; petitioners would have had to gather signatures from 5% of voters in each of Ohio’s 88 counties, a steep jump from the present 44-county requirement.
The secretary of state’s office declined to comment further to NBC News.