Kifowit to Breen: I'm sorry
Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora) apologized to Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) for her comments on Nov. 27, when she said she wanted to give Breen and his family a broth of legionella.
"I just wanted to make a statement and talk about yesterday," Kifowit said on the House floor on Nov. 28. "I want to offer my sincere apologies to Rep. Breen and his family, and the House colleagues ,on a poor choice of words during a serious discussion on our veterans' health and safety."
Kifowit said she would never wish any harm or mortality on anyone’s family, including Breen's.
"As a Marine Corps veteran, I do feel very passionate about what happened to our veterans at the Quincy Veteran’s Home," Kifowit said.
Kifowit said lost in her comments was the obligation to work together for the health of veterans and to ensure the situation in Quincy never happens again.
"As a legislator, we are fallible people," Kifowit said. "We have faults. We are tasked with a tremendous responsibility to care for those who need to be cared for, in addition to our veterans, our youth, our seniors and those who are the most frail among us."
Kifowit filed a motion pursuant to House Rule 36 to expunge from the House record the comments that were personally directed to Breen. The House voted 110-0 to expunge her comments.
Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) said he filed a motion under the same rule.
"I’d like to publicly thank Rep. Kifowit for taking the high road to correct this egregious error," Wehrli said. "For too long and too often, the civil discourse in this arena has eroded, and I hope this is the first step to move toward a higher and more professional discourse. I urge an aye vote for everyone so we can put this behind us."
Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Frankfort) said the chair should have dealt with Kifowit's lack of decorum when the comments were said.
"As we move forward into the 101st, where I hope we hope to move to a better place, I think that it’s incumbent upon all of us to follow our rules," McDermed said. "I would call upon all of us to take those measures that we’ve imposed on other people and impose them on ourselves. We are better than bullying and personal attacks on others families."
Rep. David Welter (R-Morris) said Kifowit's comments went beyond civil discourse.
"Inappropriate and insensitive remarks were made by Kifowit, and I’m glad to hear her apologize for her comments," Welter said. "However, we cannot allow this type of rhetoric in this chamber to go unchecked. Something as hurtful as what was said yesterday cannot be allowed to stand. It sends the wrong message."
Welter said because of Kifowit's comments he is invoking House Rule 90, which states that any two members have the right to dissent and protest in respectful language any act or resolution that they think injurious to the public or any individual and have their statements recorded in the journal.
Breen accepted Kifowit’s apology.
"I am glad that she decided to issue it," Breen said. "I’m also glad she decided to bring her motion."
Breen said earlier in the year he received a death threat that prompted police protection for him and his family.
"My family and I endured a vile, filthy election campaign, with $2.5 million spent to falsely connect me to rapists and child molesters," Breen said. "And yesterday we all listened while a member of this House leveled a heinous death wish on my family: my wife and our 2-year-old and 2-month-old sons, who are the joy of our lives.
Breen said because Kifowit's comments were made on the House floor and not elsewhere, she was met with applause instead of handcuffs.
"We know that if the representative had made that statement to me outside or left it on my office voicemail, she would be in custody right now," Breen said.
Breen said it is up to the members of the 101st General Assembly to decide which path Illinois will follow going forward, whether it's the high road or the low road.
"The people of Illinois are watching to see what your response will be," Breen said. "The conduct on the House floor should set a high bar."
Breen said there needs to be accountability for what was said during the Nov. 27 House floor session.
"My two boys deserve better, and every child in this state deserves better," Breen said. "I hope and pray that the members of the next General Assembly choose the right path."