Updated 02/05/2013 07:38 PM
GOP Assemblyman upset over gun laws, compares Cuomo to Hitler
A comparison of Governor Cuomo to Adolf Hitler by an upstate lawmaker drew swift condemnation by both Democrats and Republicans Tuesday and then an apology from the Assemblyman. Zack Fink has the details.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- A press conference by Republicans in Albany on Tuesday was supposed to be about how recent gun control legislation was passed.
Voted on late at night by the State Senate without debate and after waiving a required three day waiting period had left some members of the GOP fuming. But it was this comment about the gun vote which wound up overshadowing every other point.
"Just don't question it, just vote. If that's not dictatorial, I don't know what is. Hitler would be proud, Mussolini would be proud of what we did hear. Moscow would be proud. But that's not democracy," said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin.
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin was given an opportunity by reporters to correct himself. He didn't.
McLaughlin said, "I just said it. I think the way he is acting is dictatorial."
The Hitler comment quickly reverberated through the Capitol.
In a statement, Assembly Speaker Sheldon silver said, "That comparison is highly offensive and beneath a member of the State Legislature. It is completely inappropriate and doesn’t belong in our public discourse."
"As I look back perhaps we did act in haste. And you'll see at some point here are going to be amendments that are necessary to fix some of the mistakes, but I also think that type of language is inappropriate," said Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said.
The anti- defamation league also weighed in, calling the comparison to Hitler both "offensive" and a "trivialization of the holocaust."
But later in the day, in a message posted on YouTube, McLaughlin apologized.
"Hi everyone. You know, sometimes in the heat of the moment you say things that you regret. And that's what happened here today at a press conference we were having here in Albany talking about transparency in government. I made an analogy that I should not have made and I am very, very sorry about that."
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in Upstate New York, was asked about the message of necessity issued on the gun control bill which waived the three day waiting period.
"The legislature doesn't have to vote for a bill when the governor issues a message of necessity. They can. So it's really up to the legislature in the first place,” Cuomo said.
Some lawmakers quietly lament that McLaughlin's comments completely ruined what they were hoping to accomplish, namely promoting a constitutional amendment that would restrict messages of necessity and increase transparency in government.
On Tuesday afternoon, McLaughlin released this statement:
"In politics, too often people are unwilling to admit their mistakes. Today, in the heat of the moment, I let my passion overcome me and made an insensitive remark that has overshadowed a serious matter regarding democracy in New York State. I used a poor analogy and have called Governor Cuomo to apologize.
When Governor Cuomo ran for office, he promised that New York would have the most open and transparent government in the nation. While we’ve made great progress on a number of critical issues over the past two years, far too many bills have been rammed through in the dark of night before New Yorkers had a chance to make their voice heard. We can and we must do better, for all New Yorkers.
Issues like gun control, pension reform and criminal tracking are too important to confront without letting New York’s families have their say. That’s why the NYS Government Transparency Act is so critical; because we must bring a stop to the governor’s pattern of taking the people’s voice out of state government. New Yorkers deserve better."