Democrat apologizes after Legionnaires’ death wish for Republican’s relative

A Democratic state representative from west suburban Oswego apologized Wednesday for her “poor choice of words” —  a day after she told a House Republican colleague she’d like to mix a “broth of Legionella” bacteria to infect his loved one so the relative would “ultimately die.”

“To the representative from Lombard, I would like to make him a broth of Legionella and pump it into the water system of his loved one so that they can be infected, they can be mistreated, they can sit and suffer by getting aspirin instead of being properly treated and ultimately die,” State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit said on the House floor on Tuesday.

Kifowit’s controversial comments were directed at state Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, outgoing House Republican floor leader who lost his election earlier this month. Kifowit is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

But Kifowit on Wednesday morning released a statement offering her “sincere apology to Representative Peter Breen, his family, and all of my House colleagues, for my poor choice of words during a serious discussion on our Veterans’ health and safety.”

“I would never wish any harm or mortality on anyone’s family, including the Breen family,” Kifowit said.

Kifowit said it was an “attempt to illustrate empathy for the families that were affected by the loss of their loved ones” and was “not conveyed properly.”

Her floor rebuke came just before the Illinois House voted 71-36 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of a bill to increase the cap the state pays in civil litigation cases from $100,000 to $2 million. The legislation passed in May and was meant to help the families of those affected by a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Downstate Quincy. Thirteen residents have died and dozens others were sickened from the outbreak. Twelve families have filed suit.

Kifowit lashed out after Breen lamented, “we don’t even know how much this bill is going to cost,” while asking lawmakers to further negotiate the measure.

After Kifowit’s remarks, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, quickly came to Breen’s defense saying the Democrat “essentially wished a death on a Republican floor speaker.”

Just before lawmakers voted for the override, Breen stood up and shouted that Kifowit had wished death on his “f—— family.”

Breen is among the House Republicans’ most conservative members and led an effort to try to overturn a law that expanded taxpayer-funding of abortions. Breen, elected in 2014, was defeated by Democrat Terra Costa Howard.

Kifowit, herself, had sought to clarify her comments later Tuesday — saying she “quite clearly” wanted him to imagine “if it was your family, hypothetically speaking.” But she did not immediately apologize until Wednesday morning.

Earlier this month, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker named Kifowit to a 19-member panel he announced on Veterans Day. Dubbed the Serving Illinois’ Heroes Committee, it was to advise the Democrat’s transition team on issues affecting men and women who served in the armed forces.

Saying “Illinois Democrats sunk to a new low,” Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider on Tuesday demanded Kifowit’s resignation from the General Assembly and called on Pritzker to weigh in on her remarks.

A Pritzker spokeswoman issued a statement Wednesday saying it was “clear that during the course of an emotional debate over the Legionnaires’ crisis in Quincy Representative Kifowit’s rhetoric went too far and she rightfully apologized.”

The statement continued that Pritzker wanted to “keep the focus on protecting” veterans, and that Pritzker “looks forward to working with” the Serving Illinois’ Heroes Committee “to ensure the administration is ready to serve Veterans on day one in office.”

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via Chicago – Chicago Sun-Times

November 28, 2018 at 12:49PM

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