Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, said the comments by Albany-area conference member, Steve McLaughlin, were “totally inappropriate,” saying there’s no room for divisive statements in political discourse.
Kolb, after speaking at the state Association of Counties, told Gannett’s Albany Bureau that he was aware of McLaughlin’s comments that said Hitler and Mussolini would be proud of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s gun-control bill, calling Cuomo a dictator for pushing the bill through as a message of necessity. Kolb said he planned to talk to McLaughlin about the remarks.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to use that sort of language,” Kolb said, adding that politicians can have debates on issues but that name calling is “totally inappropriate.”
McLaughlin’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from Republicans and Democrats, as well as the The Anti-Defamation League. McLaughlin said on Twitter he planned to issue an apology.
“The heated political debate over gun control and government transparency should not be tainted by inappropriate and offensive invocations of Hitler or Nazism,” said Ron Meier, ADL New York regional director, said in a statement. “Whatever one’s opinion about the governor’s actions, the notion that his efforts to promote gun control legislation at the state level are akin to Adolf Hitler’s actions during World War II is historically inaccurate and a trivialization of the Holocaust.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, also criticized McLaughlin.
“That comparison is highly offensive and beneath a member of the state Legislature,” he said in a statement. “It is completely inappropriate and doesn’t belong in our public
discourse. On the substance, the constitution allows for messages of necessity and the Legislature and Governor agree to them as appropriate.”
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said, “I think that type of language is inappropriate.”
The Independent Democratic Conference also knocked McLaughlin.
“These comparisons are simply revolting. When legislators make comments like this they not only embarrass themselves—they embarrass New York,” said IDC spokesman Eric Soufer.