An email depicting Barak Obama as a chimpanzee that was sent as a “joke” by a Republican official and Tea Party activist in California has sparked outrage and a call for Marilyn Davenport to resign.

The “family photo” picture has Obama’s face superimposed over that of a baby chimpanzee with two adult chimpanzees dressed as a human mother and father holding him in their arms.

The accompanying caption, which makes reference to the Republican conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the States, reads: “Now you know why – no birth certificate!”

Marilyn Davenport, a member of the central committee of the Republican Party of Orange County and a staunch Tea Party activist, claims that there was no racism intended when she circulated the ‘Obama as a chimp’ email.

According to Davenport, the idea that a picture of Obama as a chimpanzee is racist is purely in the nasty suspicious minds of others.

In a letter to fellow committee members, Davenport wrote:

 “I’m sorry if my email offended anyone, I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth. 

“In no way did I even consider the fact he’s half black when I sent out the email.  In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race.”

However Carl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, said the picture was “vile” and “a racist slap at the president”.

Even some of Davenport’s fellow Republicans are calling for her to stand down.

Republican Party of Orange County chairman Scott Baugh, one of the first people who received the Obama email, said: “It’s a despicable message, it drips with racism and I think she should step down from the committee.”

“I have never seen anything like this before from an elected official,” Michael Schroeder, former chairman of the California GOP Party said during a TV interview.

Tea Party member Davenport has been hitting back, claiming the whole thing is a fuss about nothing, inflated by the media. She has vowed to hunt down the “coward” who leaked the Obama email.

Davenport says she will not be resigning.

“I will NOT resign my central committee position over this matter,” she wrote to the OC Weekly.

“Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black. Besides, I only sent it to a few people–mostly people I didn’t think would be upset by it.”

Despite her protestations of innocence, Davenport has certainly made some new enemies.

“Marilyn Davenport says she isn’t racist but emails chimp pics of obama referring 2him as 1/2 black! Idiot as well as a racist!” wrote DawnLawrence123  on Twitter.

“Political arguments should be about performance & policy. Is Marilyn Davenport in the 2nd grade or what?” TMmachine tweeted.

“Davenport’s email reflects the shallow, bigoted, racist low level of human consciousness that’s pervasive within the republican tea party!” agreed DonaldPHoward.