A Democrat in the Illinois state legislature sparked outrage and calls for resignation after saying during a policy debate that she wanted to mix up a “broth of Legionella” bacteria to infect her Republican colleague’s family.
The rather unusual insult came during a debate over a bill that aimed to help families that had been made ill or died after a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a state-run veterans home.
Stephanie Kifowit directed the remark at Peter Breen, after he raised concerns surrounding the costs and details of the plan. The bill would have raised the cap on damages which the state could pay out in civil cases from $100,000 to $2 million — something which Breen had argued would allow personal injury lawyers to “make out like bandits” on the cases.
Legionella pneumophila has the ability to invade bronchoalveolar macrophages (facultative intracellular pathogen), survive and multiply.
Optimal temp for growth: 37 degrees (body temp)
Survival only: 43-65 degrees (no growth) pic.twitter.com/Ah6kkRsf3O
— Kryzia Dela Merced (@kryzcdm) November 19, 2018
Kifowit was having none of it and launched a personal attack on Breen.
“To the representative from Lombard, I would like to make him a broth of Legionella and pump it into the water system of his loved one so that they can be infected, they can be mistreated, they can sit and suffer by getting aspirin instead of being properly treated and ultimately die.”
The outburst stunned other lawmakers and Breen immediately accused Kifowit of wishing death upon his family. Another Republican lawmaker, Jeanne Ives, also took to her feet in outrage.
Republicans in the House today exploded in anger over the comments of @RepKifowit in which she spoke of Rep Peter Breen’s family drinking a stew of Legionella bacteria. Kifowit said she was making a hypothetical comment, not actually wishing harm to Breen’s family @ilgop SB-2481 pic.twitter.com/eF6bDOKYIs
— IllinoisChannel (@IllinoisChannel) November 27, 2018
“How dare you. How dare you concoct up some sort of story about brewing up some batch of Legionella and having him feed it to his family,” Ives said. “How dare you take an honest debate about an issue and then wish death on my colleague Peter Breen, his wife and his two adopted kids.”
In a series of since-deleted tweets, Kifowit claimed that her words had been “twisted and misrepresented” and that she had actually asked Breen to “imagine if it was your family” as a hypothetical. That is, however, not the wording the legislator initially used in the debate, as video of her remarks clearly shows.
Unwilling to consider that Kifowit might have been exaggerating or speaking in overly dramatic terms, the Illinois Republican Party tweeted that “wishing death upon political opponents and their families undermines our democracy.” In a separate tweet, the party called on Kifowit to resign over the “reprehensible” comments.
Kifowit has not resigned, but did take to Twitter again on Wednesday to offer a “sincere apology” to Breen and his family for what she admitted was a “poor choice of words during a serious discussion.”
“I would never wish any harm or mortality on anyone’s family, including the Breen family,” she wrote, adding in another tweet that as a Marine Corps veteran herself, she feels “very passionate” about what happened at the veterans home.
The truth is this did happen to our heroes, and my attempt to illustrate empathy for the families that were affected by the loss of their loved ones was not conveyed properly.
— Stephanie Kifowit (@RepKifowit) November 28, 2018
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