Ethics panel reprimands state official for ‘offensive’ cartoon
September 30 — CONCORD – Legislative Ethics Committee formally berated a member of the Republican House for four terms for sharing a cartoon on social media that the panel found “disturbing” and “offensive” to people of the Jewish faith .
As part of the committee’s settlement of a complaint, State Representative James Spillane R-Deerfield apologized in writing for sharing the cartoon, which featured on a conservative social media platform, an anti-Semitic image and added the words “Okay. Truth .”
“I sincerely apologize for echoing a meme with an image that has proven to be deeply offensive, and I acknowledge that taking this step on my behalf as a representative of the state without having conducted extensive research to determining the source of this image was an unfortunate breach of my normal diligence, ”Spillane wrote.
“I am embarrassed that my failure to determine the hateful source of this image has resulted in offending and hurting so many others, especially those of the Jewish faith.”
Spillane said he believed the cartoon, which came from part of a wall mural circa 2012 in London, depicted government bureaucrats imposing COVID-19 shutdowns on private companies.
The committee’s decision of September 13 was published in the latest version of the House calendar which was posted online Thursday afternoon.
A group of seven members of the Jewish House lodged a complaint against Spillane last January, and many demanded that he be removed from his post.
Ethics Committee Chairman and Representative Ned Gordon, R-Bristol, said a member filing the complaint wanted the punishment to serve as a warning and teaching moment for lawmakers who post insensitive comments in line.
Gordon said the panel decided to issue the warning rather than making formal charges against Spillane which should be adopted by the entire House.
“This would serve as a public rebuke to Representative Spillane and serve as a warning to other lawmakers that the use of social media has consequences and that it must be used responsibly,” Gordon wrote.
Democratic House Leader Renny Cushing of Hampton praised the committee’s action.
“Send a clear message to all members that when you post anything on social media that is racist, sexist, anti-Semitic or otherwise discriminatory that such actions violate public service principles for all lawmakers.” Cushing posted on Twitter.