State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) has slammed Rep. Steve King for making anti-Semitic and bigoted statements but stopped short of calling on the controversial Iowa congressman to resign.
House Republicans have stripped King of committee assignments after he told the New York Times: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”
“Hate and bigotry have no place in the halls of government. I wholeheartedly condemn Representative Steve King’s anti-Semitic and racist remarks,” said Pennacchio. “White supremacy is an ugly stain on the cloth of American history. There is no defense that can wipe away that stain. Racism has been, and always will be, unacceptable.”
The Des Moines Register called for King’s resignation – “for the good of Iowa.” In a statement, the White House called his statements “abhorrent.”
“The people of Iowa and this nation deserve better from those we elect to sit in Congress. How can anyone with these views claim to be of the same party as President Lincoln? Rep. King’s comments are not representative of who we are as Republicans. We must continue to speak out against hate, and religious or racial intolerance, no matter which party the offender belongs to.”
While other Republicans have sought harsher penalties Pennacchio urged King “to issue an apology without justifications.”
Back home in the 26th district, Pennacchio has been a little more forgiving.
The four-term senator was not among a group of Republicans who repudiated Montville Township Committeewoman June Witty in April when she posted a comparison of Democrats to Nazis on her Facebook page.
The social media post suggested that Nazis “hate Jews” and that Democrats “hate Jews and Whites.”
The all-Republican township committee censured Witty and called on her to resign. She refused.
Witty later backed Pennacchio’s candidate for Republican county chairman, Ron DeFilippis, and is now coordinating a voter registration drive for the Morris County Republican organization. Pennacchio is presently he executive director of that organization.
Last week, Witty was included on a list of GOP officials who have endorsed Donald Dinsmore for Morris County Freeholder. Republican insiders say that Dinsmore is allied with DeFilippis and Pennacchio in his bid to oust three incumbents in the June primary.
Dinsmore declined comment on Witty.