LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Democratic Party removed a party official from his post Thursday after he was recorded saying he was glad U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise got shot and that he wished the Louisiana Republican had died.
Phil Montag was ousted as the volunteer co-chairman of the party's technology committee, said party chairwoman Jane Kleeb.
In the recording, Montag used a series of obscenities to describe Scalise and said he hated the congressman whose job was to "convince Republicans to (expletive) kick people off (expletive) health care." The recording was posted on YouTube and published on political blogs.
Scalise suffered life-threatening injuries after he was shot June 14 along with four other people at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. He remains hospitalized in fair condition. The gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, was shot and killed, and searches into his past revealed a long history of lashing out at Republicans.
Montag made the comments during a private meeting with the party's Black Caucus chairwoman, Chelsey Gentry-Tipton, and a friend of hers, Destin Madison.
"I'm glad he got shot," Montag said in the recording, in the middle of a heated exchange. "I'm not going to (expletive) say that in public."
Later, he added: "I wish he was (expletive) dead."
Madison then told Montag on the tape that he had secretly recorded his remarks and planned to publicize them.
A phone listing for Madison appeared to be a wrong number, and other attempts to reach him were not successful. Montag declined to answer questions when contacted by The Associated Press.
Montag told the Omaha World-Herald he was "horrified" by the shooting and all gun violence, and that he "absolutely" did not wish Scalise was dead. He said the 42-second recording was part of a half-hour conversation that had been edited to take his words out of context.
"I did not call for the congressman's death," Montag told the newspaper.
Gentry-Tipton faced criticism last week for saying online that it was funny to watch congressmen crying about the shooting on live television. Kleeb called on Gentry-Tipton to resign but could not fire her because she holds an elected position.
After her initial post on Facebook, Gentry-Tipson added: "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."
Later, in a separate posting, she said she didn't condone the shooting or find it funny.
Montag told the World-Herald he had visited Gentry-Tipton to console her during the fallout over her online posts and party leaders' response, but that she and Madison were trying to use the recording to blackmail him into posting a public statement of support for her. Madison and Gentry-Tipton did not respond to the allegation.
The Nebraska Republican Party issued a statement calling Montag and Gentry-Tipton's comments "completely reprehensible and disappointing."
Kleeb, the Democratic Party chairwoman, said the party doesn't tolerate violent rhetoric.
"Violent comments about anyone whether they are an elected official or a kid on the street are unacceptable," Kleeb said. "The political rhetoric is so off the cliff of reality I fear where our body politic is headed."
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