A Facebook post by a strategist for the Morris County Republicans attacking Pope Francis is drawing the wrath of party leaders.
“The Pope should go take care of pedophiles in his own church before he starts talking about America,” wrote King Penna, who was involved in Ron DeFilippis’ campaign for Republican county chairman two weeks ago and is now part of the 2018 campaign team. “Someone should inform the hypocrite that he lives in a compound with walls; why don’t you take all the refugees there?”
The post came after the pontiff said he agreed with a statement made by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops criticizing the separation of families who are not in the United States legally.
“I think it’s disgusting,” said Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo, a Republican. “Hopefully that’s not representative of the party. I can’t believe they took him on as a consultant.”
Mastrangelo said that leaders of the party should decide if they want Penna to do their messaging. He said he viewed Penna’s comments as disrespectful.
Three other Morris GOP officials, who asked not to be identified, agreed with Mastrangelo and suggested that DeFilippis fire him.
DeFilippis was elected county chairman by a margin of just four votes on June 12 and despite a pledge to unite the party in advance of a competitive general election, he appears to be going in a different direction. Penna role in the fall campaign after working for the losing candidates for Freeholder in the recent primary has angered the winners of the primary, according to a source familiar with last week’s meeting at Republican headquarters.
Mastrangelo said that Penna did not strike a conciliatory tone after DeFilippis was announced as the winner.
“He yelled, ‘We’re gonna clean house,’” Mastrangelo said. “He’s always looking for a fight.”
DeFilippis did not respond to a 4:25 PM phone call seeking comment.