Roger Garrison, sheriff of Cherokee County, GA., has admitted to making “a stupid mistake,” after photos surfaced of him dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume – as he campaigns for re-election, the Cherokee Tribune reported.
Garrison, who wore the costume at a Halloween party about 25 years ago, said he had served the people of Cherokee with “honor and integrity” as sheriff for two decades, and he was confident voters would not forget this.
More from GlobalPost: 'Facecrook' created by New Jersey sheriff's office to catch criminals
“This is by no means a reflection upon my career… or personal beliefs,” Garrison said. “It was a simple, childish Halloween costume party — nothing more, nothing less,” Garrison said, adding that he was about 21 years old when the incident took place.
According to local news channel WSB Atlanta, which broadcast the pictures, Garrison said he and a friend had intended their costumes to be a spoof on a character from the movie “Blazing Saddles,” and that he did not subscribe to the beliefs of the KKK.
Garrison is seeking a sixth term in office in primary elections next month, and on Friday he accused his opponent, David Waters, a commander with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, of sending the KKK photos to the media in Atlanta.
He described the move as a “deeply appalling” political attack – adding that Waters was in no position to make a moral judgment, considering he had been married five times, the Cherokee Tribune reported.
“It’s clearly an act of desperation on his part and I believe that the voters will respond accordingly. They’re sick of that type of campaigning,” Garrison said.
More from GlobalPost: Going for the hajj? Yeah, there’s an app for that
Although Waters admitted to having sighted a photograph of Garrison and a friend dressed as KKK members, he denied sending the photo on to journalists, WSBTV reported.
"That type of clothing represents hate, and I certainly don't want any part of that," Waters said.