A comparison of Governor Andrew Cuomo to Adolf Hitler by an upstate assemblyman Tuesday drew swift condemnation by both Democrats and Republicans before the assemblyman apologized. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
A press conference by Republicans in Albany on Tuesday was supposed to be about how recent gun control legislation was passed.
The fact that it was voted on late at night by the State Senate without debate and after waiving a required three-day waiting period left some members of the GOP fuming.
But one comment about the gun vote from Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin wound up overshadowing every other point.
"Hitler would be proud. Mussolini would be proud of what we did here. Moscow would be proud," McLaughlin said. "But that's not democracy."
McLaughlin was given an opportunity by reporters to correct himself. He didn't.
"I just said it. I think he's acting dictatorial," he said.
The Hitler comment quickly reverberated through the Capitol.
"That comparison is highly offensive and beneath a member of the State Legislature," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement. "It is completely inappropriate and doesn’t belong in our public discourse."
"As I reflect back, perhaps we did act in haste," said Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos. "And you'll see at some point, there are going to be amendments that are necessary to fix some of the mistakes. But I also think that that type of language is inappropriate."
The Anti-Defamation League also weighed in, calling the comparison to Hitler both "offensive" and a "trivialization of the holocaust."
But later in the day, in a message posted on YouTube, McLaughlin apologized.
"I made an analogy that I should not have made and I am very, very sorry about that," McLaughlin said in the video.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in upstate New York, was asked about the message of necessity issued on the gun control bill, which waived the three-day waiting period.
"The legislature doesn't have to vote for the bill when the governor issues a message of necessity," Cuomo said. "They can. So it's really up to the legislature in the first place."
Some lawmakers quietly lamented that McLaughlin's comments completely ruined what they were trying to accomplish: namely, promoting a constitutional amendment that would restrict messages of necessity and increase transparency in government.