In the wake of , state Senate President Stephen Sweeney moved quickly to condemn those actions, but his representatives also admonished West Deptford Republicans for trying to exploit those threats in an election season.
"As someone who has been on the receiving end of threats before, the Senate president condemns these cowardly acts in the strongest of terms,” spokesman Christopher Donnelly said. “Those who seek and hold public office do so out of a love for their community, and while we may disagree with them, they deserve respect.”
But using those alleged threats against Republican Mayor Ray Chintall and Committeeman Sam Cianfarini, which are currently under investigation by police, to try to bolster their campaign is beyond the pale, Donnelly said.
“Despite how serious this is, the local Republican leadership is seeking to use threats made against their own colleagues to score political points. That is just pathetic, and diminishes the seriousness of real threats of violence," he said.
Republicans have argued Sweeney’s speech last week, which included a call to “punish our enemies” at election time, are inflammatory and could incite some factions within the Democratic Party to take drastic measures.
“Collectively, I think there are a lot of good people in the Democratic Party who want none of this,” West Deptford Republican chair Dennis Forte said. “Unfortunately, I think some people take his words a little too seriously.”
There's little to suggest Sweeney's remarks were responsible for any of the threats made against the two Republicans, given Forte's admission the threats started several months ago, and the most recent was at least several weeks prior to the Senate president's speech.
And Donnelly said the Republicans were deliberately twisting the meaning of Sweeney’s full remarks, which referenced attacks on organized labor in the larger context.
"Senate President Sweeney firmly believes that those who are trying to stamp out workers' rights in this country will have to answer to the voters this fall,” said Donnelly. “For anyone, much less those that represent a Republican Party doing everything in its power nationally to keep people from voting this November, to imply anything else from those statements is simply foolish."