An e-mail reportedly sent by party central committee member Marilyn Davenport shows an image, posed like a family portrait, of chimpanzee parents and child, with Obama's face artificially superimposed on the child. Text beneath the photo reads, "Now you know why no birth certificate."
Davenport, when reached by The Associated Press, said she would provide a written statement with her response, but several hours later she had not issued one.
The alternative newspaper OC Weekly first reported the story, and was told by Davenport that the e-mail was "just an Internet joke." She also asked the Weekly, "You're not going to make a big deal about this are you?"
Republican Party of Orange County Chairman Scott Baugh told The Associated Press on Saturday that he wants an ethics investigation into the incident.
"It's just highly inappropriate, it's a despicable message, it drips with racism and I think she should step down from the committee," said Baugh.
Baugh said it could be several days before it's known whether the ethics committee will agree to investigate Davenport.
At the very least, Baugh said, Davenport should be apologizing for what she's done rather than attacking whoever leaked the email to media, referring to an email Davenport sent after the story broke calling on "the coward" who leaked the email to come forward.
Davenport, a tea party activist, represents the 72nd Assembly District in Orange County on the central committee.
She represents Brea, Placentia, Fullerton and portions of other Orange County cities to the county committee tasked with fundraising, campaigning and debating policy for the Republican Party.