After Tweeting 'Kill Yourself' to GOP Staffer, New York State Senator Apologizes
By Michael Gormley
A state senator on Tuesday apologized for telling a Republican staffer to "Kill yourself!" on Twitter.
Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) quickly apologized on Twitter and the exchange with Candice Giove, a spokeswoman for the Senate's Republican conference, was deleted.
The Twitter exchange began when Giove sought to help a local resident figure out whose car was blocking a local bike path. The car had a New York City-issued parking placard, provided to many politicians and others in the city as a perk. The local resident said the placard was being abused by an "arrogant scofflaw" and used a profanity.
Giove tweeted that the placard belonged to Parker, who then responded: "Kill yourself!" That tweet later was scrubbed from the website.
"I sincerely apologize," Parker tweeted later Tuesday. "I used a poor choice of words. Suicide is a serious thing and should not be made light of."
Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins issued a statement: "I was disappointed in Senator Parker's tweet. Suicide is a serious issue and should not be joked about in this manner. I am glad that he has apologized."
A Stewart-Cousins aide didn't respond when asked if Parker would be disciplined.
"It sounds wildly inappropriate," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said of Parker's tweet as she attended a news event in Albany.
Minutes after his apology and as the exchange was being furiously retweeted, Parker returned to Twitter to take on Giove. He said she was "on the wrong side of history" in many liberal causes when she was chief spokeswoman for the Independent Democratic Conference, which worked with the then-Republican majority to bring some progressive issues to the floor for passage. The IDC was a breakaway group from Parker's Democratic minority conference and is now defunct. Critics say the IDC kept mainline Democrats out of power in the Senate.
Neither Parker nor Giove responded to requests for comment.
"This was reprehensible and it was wrong, and there can be no justification for it. Ever," said Senate Republican leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport). "Suicide is a serious issue, and his cavalier and harmful language shouldn't be dismissed as just a poor choice of words. These words are beyond the pale and beneath the state Senate."
Flanagan called for Parker to be reprimanded by his fellow Democrats.
A week ago, Parker had introduced a bill that would require social media background checks before a person could buy a gun. It called for denial of firearms permits for anyone found on social media to be "threatening the health or safety of another person."
In 2009, Parker was stripped of his then-leadership position after he was accused of damaging a press photographer's car. He agreed to undergo an anger management course and has since become a leading veteran voice in the Democratic conference that on Jan. 1 will become the Senate majority.
With James T. Madore