NEWTOWN, Conn., (UPI) — A Republican Connecticut state lawmaker apologized for telling former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat who visited Newtown, to “stay out of my towns!!”
“The remarks I made regarding Congresswoman [Giffords'] visit were insensitive and if I offended anyone I truly apologize,” state Rep. DebraLee Hovey, who represents Newtown and neighboring Monroe, said in a statement.
“My comments were meant to be protective of the privacy of the families and our community as we work to move on, and were in no way intended as an insult to Congresswoman Giffords personally,” she said.
On Friday, Giffords — who continues to recover from a gunshot wound to the head during a Jan. 8, 2011, assassination attempt — and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, visited families of victims of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that left 20 children and six adult staff members dead and two others wounded.
The same day, Hovey wrote on her Facebook page, “Gabby Gifford stay out of my towns!!” misspelling the former congresswoman’s last name.
“It was political,” the five-term lawmaker added in a comment thread. “The Lt Gov [Nancy Wyman] was there, [U.S. Sen. Richard] Blumenthal was there and ALL political types KNOW it is courteous to let sitting Reps know when another political is in their District. So…… There was pure political motives.”
Wyman and Blumenthal are Democrats. Giffords also met First Selectman Pat Llodra, a Republican, who is Newtown’s chief executive and administrative officer.
Giffords’ two meetings, with the politicians and then with relatives of those killed during massacre, were closed to the press and there was no statement afterward.
Hovey, who was at a meeting in Florida at the time of Giffords’ visit, removed the post from her public Facebook page Sunday afternoon.
The Hartford Courant captured screenshots of Hovey’s Facebook posting before it was removed.