WASHINGTON, D.C. — A top Democratic official has been removed from his position after a tape surfaced on Thursday in which the official can be heard praising the Alexandria shooting.
Phil Montag, who served as the Nebraska Democratic Party’s co-chair of it’s technology committee, can be heard on the recording saying he wishes Steve Scalise, (R-La.,) who was shot last week by an anti-Republican activist during a charity baseball event practice, were “dead.”
“His whole job is to get people, convince Republicans to [expletive] kick people off [expletive] health care. I’m glad he got shot,” Montag said in the audio recording. “I wish he was [expletive] dead.”
The audio, which was posted to YouTube and quickly went viral (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-CKb3vQsi0), has been verified by Nebraska Democratic Chairwoman Jane Kleeb as authentic (http://fox42kptm.com/news/local/nebraska-democratic-party-official-ousted-after-controversial-audio-recording-surfaces).
“We obviously condemn any kind of violence whether it’s comments on Facebook or comments in a meeting,” Kleeb said in a statement after announcing her decision to let Montag go. “Our country is better than the political rhetoric that is out there from both the far right and the far left.”
Montag, in defense of his comments, claims the recording had been manipulated in an effort to take his words out of context.
“I did not call for the congressman’s death,” Montag told the World-Herald. “Like every decent American I am saddened and horrified by the shooting of Congressman Scalise,” he said. “I do not and did not wish for his death. I am hopeful that the entirety of the original, unedited recording will emerge so we can get to the truth of the matter.”
The audio was recorded during a private meeting with the Democrat party’s Black Caucus chairwoman, Chelsey Gentry-Tipton, who is also under fire for saying she found the “trauma” the victims went through during the shooting “funny”.
On a Facebook post written the day of the shooting, Gentry-Tipton wrote:
“Hard to be empathetic towards those that have no empathy for us. The very people that push pro NRA legislation in efforts to pad their pockets with complete disregard for human life. Yeah, having a hard time feeling bad for them.”
In a separate post, Gentry-Tipton added: ‘Watching the congressman crying on live tv abt the trauma they experienced. Y is this so funny tho?”
After intense backlash, Gentry-Tipton too said her comments were taken out of context and claimed no wrong doing. “I don’t condone or find the humor in what happened,” she said in her own defense.
In response to Montag’s comments, Kleeb said the audio is what it is and rebuffed claims that the audio had been altered.
“I’m not interested in the back and forth of Chelsey’s or Phil’s excuses for their comments,” said Montag. “We move forward, continuing to do the work at hand.”
Unlike Montag, Gentry-Tipton is refusing to apologize and says she will not resign over the controversy. Kleeb says her hands are tied in regard to Gentry-Tipton as Montag was appointed and Gentry-Tipton was elected.
“Wishing a Member of Congress or any individual dead is disgusting and has no place in our party,” Kleeb told the World-Herald (http://www.omaha.com/news/politics/state-democratic-party-chair-removes-official-after-offensive-remarks-about/article_d9157d0e-5781-11e7-b24c-e34cfa0fe0c0.html).
Scalise, 51, has represented Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District since 2008. He is married with two children. He is currently still hospitalized as he recovers from the gunshot wounds sustained in the attack.