An Illinois state senator has apologized for a series of photos showing supporters at a fundraiser carrying out a mock assassination of President Trump, WCIA reports.
Last Friday, supporters came together to throw a fundraising event for Democratic state Senator Martin Sandoval, who represents parts of Chicago. Donors reportedly paid at least $250 to attend the golf outing at Klein Creek Golf Club in Winfield.
The following day, a female attendee posted several images showing man pointing what appears to be a fake assault weapon at another attendee who wore Mexican garb and a Trump mask. The pictures drew immediate backlash from members of Illinois's Democratic and Republican parties.
A political fundraiser for @SenatorSandoval simulates an assassination attempt against a mock @realDonaldTrump decked out in Mexican garb. Looks like a man pointed a fake assault weapon at the fake President to pose for a picture. pic.twitter.com/MlT9zjB1mn— Mark Maxwell (@MarkMaxwellTV) August 17, 2019
"As our nation grapples with the epidemic of gun violence, purposely pointing a fake gun at anyone is insensitive and wrong," said Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker. "I condemn actions like the ones displayed in the pictures because they lack the civility our politics demands."
Maura Possley, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Illinois, also weighed in on the controversy.
"The tragedies in El Paso and Gilroy have demonstrated how hate-filled political rhetoric can fuel violence," she said. "These images are unacceptable and dangerous. The place to make our voices heard against Trump is at the ballot box."
Sandoval, who was elected to the Illinois Senate in 2003, chairs the Senate Transportation Committee and had previously worked at the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and Environmental Protection Agency. In an emailed statement to WCIA, he apologized for the episode.
"The incident that took place is unacceptable," he said. "I don’t condone violence toward the President or anyone else. I apologize that something like this happened at my event."
A spokesman for Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider has since called on Sandoval to investigate the person responsible for posting the photos and to fire her if she is an employee.
"The apology from Sen. Sandoval for the detestable pictures from his event depicting an assassination of President Trump is too little, too late," the spokesperson said. "Dangerous imagery like this will be condemned and seen as inappropriate by people of sound mind; however, a mentally unstable individual who wants to harm President Trump might find them as an inspiration. It’s inexcusable for an elected official to allow the promotion of violence in any way."
Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump's aides and biggest supporters, also chimed in on Twitter.
"Every Democrat should be asked if they support or disavow this," she wrote on Sunday.
Every Democrat should be asked if they support or disavow this. https://t.co/7nRXtzIXqz— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) August 19, 2019
Several Twitter users, however, were quick to snap back.
"How many Republicans disavowed Trump's racist rhetoric causing at least one mass shooting," one person asked.
How many Republicans disavowed Trump's racist rhetoric causing at least one mass shooting?— ✳MelissaBitesBack✳ (@DruggedUpLoser) August 19, 2019
Another accused Conway of hypocrisy, posting several images of people demonstrating against Barack Obama with explicit signs during his term.
"Hang in there Obama," one sign, with a picture of a noose, reads.