State Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) criticized Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration’s handling of COVID-19, likening it to the Nazi Party, during a state House committee hearing on Monday.
“The press is having a very difficult time fulfilling its responsibilities to the public, getting information out because this governor has repeatedly refused all sorts of information,” Dush said.
“More and more I go back to the German Democratic Nationalist Socialist Party, the Nazi Party,” Dush said. “I go to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR.”
“This is a socialist playbook,” Dush added. Historians widely dismiss attempts to label Nazis as socialist, despite the party’s appropriation of the term, favoring the term “fascist” instead.
State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-Philadelphia) fired back immediately calling his comments “outrageous” and condemned the comparisons he was making during the committee hearing.
“Chairman, this is outrageous,” Boyle said. “Stop it with these Nazi references.”
“It is offensive and wrong,” Boyle said.
Dush responded by saying his comments were about a statement of history and called for increased access to information.
“It’s a statement of history. It’s history. It’s history,” Dush replied. “This is a socialist playbook and I have to say that it’s important for the people of this state to start having access to information rather than having it blown off to the side and hidden for an agenda.”
According to PennLive, Dush later apologized on the House floor for his comments made during the hearing.
“Because of one government system I was talking about, a number of people took exception to it,” Dush said. “This was in no way meant to reflect that our Governor or anybody else would do the atrocities of that were done by any of those regimes.”
“If somebody was under that impression, that that is where I was going, I apologize,” Dush said. “I had in no way was reflecting on that.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wolf’s office criticized the comments from Dush and other House Republicans during the ongoing dispute about responding to reopening the state after COVID-19.
“In the last few days, House Republicans have shared fake reopening plans online and a rank and file member has compared the administration to Nazis while Republican members have spent time moving legislation to reopen zoos during a global pandemic and rallied with activists who have made threats against the governor,” a spokesperson for Wolf’s office said in an emailed statement. “We badly need partners in the legislature who will take the challenge before them seriously instead of using it to divide the commonwealth.”
Republicans lawmakers subpoenaed Wolf’s administration last week over documents related to its coronavirus waiver process for businesses, according to SpotlightPA.
Dush, who is currently serving his third term in the state House, is running for the GOP nomination for the 25th state Senate District, a seat held by state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson), who is retiring at the end of this term. In November, Dush announced in November that he was not seeking another term for the 66th state House District. In January, Dush announced his intentions to seek the Republican nomination for Auditor General, but decided weeks later to drop the bid for that statewide office and run for the state Senate.