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Illinois Democrat apologizes for mock Trump assassination photos taken at fundraiser

CHICAGO — State Sen. Martin Sandoval issued an apology over the weekend after photos were posted online showing a man at a fundraiser Friday for the Chicago Democrat pointing a fake gun at someone wearing a mask depicting President Donald Trump.

The photos, which were posted to Facebook by a user who tagged Sandoval, sparked swift condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike after they were first reported by Champaign-based TV station WCIA.

Sandoval, who did not respond Monday to requests for comment, issued a statement to the TV station over the weekend. “The incident that took place is unacceptable,” Sandoval said, according to WCIA. “I don’t condone violence toward the president or anyone else. I apologize that something like this happened at my event.”

The senator wasn’t in the mock assassination photo, and it wasn’t clear whether he knew that it happened at the time. Another photo shows Sandoval standing with the man who held the fake gun in the controversial photo, according to WCIA.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statement Saturday condemning the pictures and also addressed the issue Monday at an unrelated news conference.

“In this moment especially, political civility is important,” Pritzker said Monday. “And we also live in a moment when we’ve seen gun violence proliferate. I think it was important for me to speak out about it; it was important for Sen. Sandoval, as he did, to speak out about it. It’s inappropriate to point even a fake gun at any individual, especially at this moment.”

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider called Sandoval’s apology “too little, too late,” in a statement issued Monday.

“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,” Schneider said. “It’s inexcusable for an elected official to allow the promotion of violence in any way. If the individual pictured is a staffer or volunteer, they should be terminated immediately.”

The story also drew the attention of presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, who tweeted, “Every Democrat should be asked if they support or disavow this.”



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