Top Clinton campaign staffers worried about embracing the 2013 New York gun control law known as the SAFE Act during a speech at a leading gun control group's awards dinner, and ultimately decided to avoid praising some of the law’s more controversial provisions, hacked emails published on Wednesday show.
While reviewing the speech Hillary Clinton was slated to give at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence's 2015 Bear Awards, a number of top Clinton staffers discussed how to praise Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s work on gun control without embracing the SAFE Act.
After a draft of the speech was circulated to staffers, Huma Abedin said that praise for Cuomo's efforts should be increased.
"I'm wondering if we should beef up what she says about Cuomo and what hes doing in Ny about guns," she said. "We had agreed to do a message event with him after he endorsed but schedule was tough so we invited him to tonight. So maybe slightly more love for what he's doing as governor?"
Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta responded saying he thought that was a "good catch." Clinton campaign research director Tony Carrk asked if such an approach would mean "embracing the SAFE Act."
Corey Ciorciari, a Clinton policy adviser, said fully embracing the law was unnecessary in response.
"Don't see a need to fully embrace the SAFE Act," he said. "There are some controversial items in there. We can highlight pieces that fit within our agenda."
The Clinton campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The SAFE Act has faced a significant backlash since its implementation. The law has been criticized for effectively mandating the creation of seven round magazines, which were not previously manufactured. The Veterans Administration has refused to comply with some of its reporting requirements. Many New York gun owners have also refused to comply with the law's registration requirements.
Ciorciari drafted a line that would highlight the parts of the SAFE Act the campaign liked while ignoring the rest.
"I'm working with Megan to incorporate something like this: 'After the tragedy of Sandy Hook, when Congress failed to heed the call of the American people to take action, you led the fight in New York and expanded life saving background checks,' he said.
Carrk, the campaign's research director, agreed with Ciorciari. "SAFE is not a safe bet," he replied.
The email exchange was posted online by Wikileaks. The director of national intelligence and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security have accused "Russia’s senior-most officials" of hacking and leaking emails posted to Wikileaks and other sites to influence the 2016 election.
On Nov. 19, 2015, just a few hours after the final email in the chain was sent, Hillary Clinton was presented with the inaugural Mario M. Cuomo Visionary Award. Clinton praised Cuomo's efforts to "expand background checks" during her speech that night but did not mention the SAFE Act by name or praise its other provisions. Her comments aligned closely with Ciorciari's suggested remarks.
"One of the things that Andrew was saying tonight, which I just want to echo, is how hard he worked to make sure that New York responded to the scourge of gun violence and, in particular, the tragedy of Sandy Hook when congress failed to take action despite a lot of effort in the congress, in the White House and Andrew led the fight here to expand background checks," she said. "Congress may have let us down but Andrew did not."