State Rep. DebraLee Hovey of Monroe issued an apology Monday for comments she posted on Facebook regarding the visit of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to Newtown late last week.
“The remarks I made regarding Congresswoman Giffords’ visit were insensitive and if I offended anyone, I truly apologize,” Hovey said. “My comments were meant to be protective of the privacy of the families and our community as we work to move on, and were in no way intended as an insult to Congresswoman Giffords personally.
“Our community has struggled greatly through this tragedy,” Hovey continued, “and we are all very sensitive to the potential for this event to be exploited for political purposes. This is what I wish to avoid.”
Hovey was in Florida attending a board meeting of the Women in Government national organization during the visit by Giffords. The Republican is about to begin her sixth term representing the 112th District, which includes a part of Newtown as well as all of Monroe.
The controversial Facebook posts
According to published reports, Hovey posted these two controversial Facebook comments:
—“Gabby Gifford stay out of my towns!!”
—“It was political. The Lt. Gov. was there, Blumenthal was there and ALL political types KNOW it is courteous to let sitting Reps know when another political is in their district. So … There was pure political motives.”
By “Reps,” Hovey appears to have been referring to state representatives and not to a political party. By “political,” she appears to have been referring to politicians or political figures. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal are Democrats, as is Giffords.
Attempted assassination on Giffords in 2011
Giffords was a three-term congressman from the Tucson, Ariz., area when in January 2011 she was critically injured during a shooting in a supermarket parking lot that led to the death of six other people. The second anniversary of the incident is today, Jan. 8.
Law enforcement officials and prosecutors said the gunman’s motive was to assassinate Giffords, who was at the site to meet with constituents.
Giffords resigned from office about a year later due to her serious injuries, which have impacted her ability to talk, walk and write. She had been shot in the head by the shooter, who later pleaded guilty to 19 charges of murder and attempted murder and also was found to be mentally incompetent.
She and her husband, Mark Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut who commanded the Space Shuttle, have spoken out against gun violence since the Tucson shooting but remain supportive of many gun rights.
Hovey: ‘I am still working through my grief’
Hovey said she, like many other people in the area, is still learning how to deal with the sorrow she feels from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14 that led to the death of 20 first-grade students and six adult educators.
“The events of Dec. 14 affected all of us deeply and like many others I am still working through my grief and trying to come to terms with what happened, how we as a community and a state move forward, and how we can prevent horrific events like this from occurring in the future,” she said. “My deepest condolences continue to go out to the families, the community of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown and Connecticut.”
In a press release issued by Hovey’s office, the Monroe state legislator was described as being “a strong advocate for her district” who “has called for a dialogue on mental health issues, improving school safety and gun control.”