Mark Kelly’s campaign said it does not agree with its spokesperson's characterization of police as "worthless f—ing pigs" on Thursday, after the Washington Free Beacon first reported the staffer’s comments.
The Arizona Democrat’s Senate campaign said it has taken "appropriate action" to deal with the statements by TJ L’Heureux, Kelly’s deputy press secretary, whom it described as a "junior staffer." L’Heureux also apologized for his comments on Thursday, calling them "wrong."
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"Our campaign values the public service, bravery and sacrifice of police officers across our nation," Kelly’s press secretary Jacob Peters told the Arizona Republic. "The tweet posted by a junior staff member is unacceptable and we are taking the appropriate action."
Peters said the campaign was not aware of L’Heureux’s comments until the Free Beacon article was published on Thursday. The Free Beacon had reached out to Peters for comment on Wednesday afternoon, prior to publication, and received no response.
Kelly, whose parents are retired law enforcement officers, has attempted to portray himself as moderate on criminal justice issues in his race against the Republican incumbent, Sen. Martha McSally. He has said he doesn’t support the "defund the police" movement that has been gaining popularity with Democrats, but he has argued that there is systemic racism in the law enforcement system.
On Aug. 17, L’Heureux wrote "You worthless fucking pigs" in a tweet directed at the Chicago Police Department. The message linked to a video that showed Chicago officers clashing with anti-police demonstrators. L’Heureux officially started working for Kelly’s campaign one week later.
"I deeply regret my comment and apologize for what I wrote—I was wrong," L'Heureux said in a statement published by the Arizona Republic on Thursday. "My comment does not reflect who I am or what I believe, and most importantly, it is not representative of what this campaign stands for. The language I used and the sentiment I conveyed do not belong in our political process, which is why I have deleted the tweet."
L’Heureux also set his Twitter account to "private" on Thursday.
Peters did not say what action the campaign took, but L’Heureux still appears to work for Kelly, according to his Twitter biography. His comments had sparked outrage with police advocates in the state.
Joe Clure, the executive director of the Arizona Police Association, a trade association for state law enforcement entities, called L’Heureux’s statement "frankly disgusting."
"It sadly isn’t the first time I’ve seen this from Democratic campaign personnel," Clure told the Free Beacon. "I hope that [Kelly] fires [the staffer] immediately to show that he doesn’t condone this kind of attitude that police are ‘fucking worthless.’"