By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank Republican Chairman Michael Clancy on Wednesday disavowed a text message that a party loyalist had termed a “disgusting” slap at the borough’s immigrant community.
Amid renewed calls for his resignation from the borough Human Relations Advisory Committee, Clancy sent redbankgreen a statement in which he expressed a “deep empathy for immigrants and children of immigrants, who live in fear of deportation.”
Here’s the full text of the statement Clancy issued Wednesday afternoon:
There is a small fragment of a text message conversation circulating that has, unfortunately, been significantly altered. When only one side is allowed to present their own narrative, it creates a message that is taken deeply out of context, which is why I’m addressing this preposterous claim. I have deep empathy for immigrants and children of immigrants, who live in fear of deportation. I assure you I do not believe in tearing my neighbors’ families apart by deporting loved ones, and I sincerely apologize to anyone who took it that way, especially to our immigrant community. Red Bank is an inclusive city, which I am proud to be a part of. I would never intentionally do anything to undermine that quality.
The controversy centered on a text message Clancy sent to Sue Viscomi, a Republican volunteer who serves on the board of education, on February 22, following A Day Without Immigrants protests held nationwide.
Viscomi, angry that Clancy had overlooked her as a possible council candidate in favor of Dana McArthur, a political newcomer, claimed in a letter to party regulars on Tuesday that Clancy had asked her for the names of immigrant children who may have participated in the protest so they could be sent to ICE, or the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
An Ecuadorean immigrant, said she was “dumbfounded” on receiving the message as part of a group that included all three Republican council members. She called it “disgusting.”
Clancy told redbankgreen Wednesday that “content of the conversation was removed” from screengrabs Viscomi had shared with fellow Republicans.
Viscomi, however, insisted that the text was not taken out of context and said she stands by her account “100 percent.”
“He has been called out on being racist more than once,” she said.
In an email to the local party’s members, she continued her two-track attack on Clancy that began Tuesday:
What is the end game? After I communicated with the Chairman and [Councilwoman] Linda Schwabenbauer, it was clear and GOP Council members and Chairman had NO intentions to include the county committee members in selecting the 2017 ticket, and going against precedent. Their full intentions were to balance the optics and have a young female on the ticket. The other pro is someone who grew up in the town. So because I was not born in Red Bank, but choose this amazing town to live in after College and because I did not fit the physical mold to balance the ticket the 4 of them scapegoat the transparent process. The disturbing part of this is they could not give me one sold reason why Ms. McArthur would be a good fit except for her looks and age. The Chairman has been called out on more than one occasion for being racists and his lack of leadership will surly hurt the party. He has been ask a few times to resign from his position on the Human Relations Committee and I ask for a vote of no confidence as our GOP Chairman.
Meanwhile, for the second time in recent weeks, Human Relations committee chairman David Pascale asked for Clancy’s resignation.
Pascale wrote to Clancy:
A majority of the committee members, numerous residents and the mayor have already expressed a desire for you to be removed from the HRAC as soon as possible. Please submit your resignation to the Red Bank Human Relations Advisory Committee as soon as it is convenient this week. I highly recommend that you also apologize to those you offended. It would serve you well to write a beautiful statement of apology to the people of Red Bank. Find the best way with the largest forum for this. Everyone can be forgiven but not if they don’t ask.
It was the second such request by Pascale in recent weeks. The first came in mid-March after Clancy characterized as “sob stories” the testimony of Latino witnesses worried about seeing their parents and other relatives being deported for being undocumented aliens.