Illinois Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn says that his campaign did not actually read a controversial article comparing black Republicans to Jewish Nazi collaborators before tweeting it several times to the public.
Quinn has been under heavy fire from the Jewish and black communities since the Washington Free Beacon first reported that his campaign had tweeted—and then quietly deleted—several messages urging backers to read a Chicago Sun Times article that compared conservative black voters to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis.
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Quinn—who would not address the controversy during a Holocaust memorial event yesterday evening—had his campaign issue a statement claiming that nobody on staff "thoroughly" read the article before tweeting it out several times.
"We retweeted a local publication’s news story on Twitter last week before thoroughly reading it and didn’t realize there was an inaccurate and offensive sentence in the story," the Quinn campaign said. "When it was brought to our attention, we immediately deleted the tweet."
The comparison of black Republicans to Jewish Nazi came just three paragraphs—or less than 100 words—into Sun Times columnist Neil Steinberg’s article.
"As a general rule, individuals will sell out the interests of their groups in return for personal benefit," Steinberg wrote in his column, which claimed that Rauner is buying off the black community and its leaders. "It isn’t just a black thing. Jews collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping them to round up their own people in the hopes they’d be the last to go."
Some in the Chicago Jewish community are still upset with Quinn, who they accuse of lying about having not fully read the article. Quinn, they say, needs to publicly apologize.
"I think a loud and clear message was sent to Democrats like Pat Quinn that there is no place for Holocaust imagery in politics," said one Chicago-based Jewish activist, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely. "Pat Quinn is obviously lying about not knowing what was in the article since the campaign quoted it in their tweets, but at least he was forced to throw the liberal columnist under the bus."
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which works to combat anti-Semitism, referred to the Quinn campaign’s tweets as "a desecration of their [Holocaust victims’] memory."
Cooper also called on Quinn to apologize publicly and distance himself from Steinberg’s article.
Steinberg dismissed the entire controversy when approached for comment by the Free Beacon Thursday evening following the Quinn campaign’s statement
"When you write for the public, all sorts of people will twist and misconstrue what you say in all sorts of self-serving ways," Steinberg wrote via e-mail. "That is their concern not mine."
"The column," Steinberg maintained, "is unobjectionable, was published a week ago. There was none of the outrage or shock that your friends conjured up—people who actually read the Sun Times had no trouble with it."
Steinberg blamed the controversy on "right wing fanatics looking for anything to club Quinn with."
"I don't see what else there is to say," Steinberg wrote, adding in a later email: "I'm sure there's enough there that you can pull out something to make me seem idiotic."