Gemma campaign takes the low road vs. Cicilline

Aug 27, 2012

UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting that Gemma has dismissed Sionni from the campaign. A Gemma spokesman called Sionni’s Twitter comments “inappropriate” and said Sionni, who was not paid, would no longer be working on Gemma’s campaign.

UPDATE II:  Gemma’s campaign spokesman, Alex Morash, says in a statement that Sionni has been a volunteer for the campaign who drove the campaign bus and helped out with canvassing and office chores. Morash said Sionni has never been an advisor to Gemma. Sionni did not share his Twitter post with Gemma before posting it. “Mr. Gemma finds Mr. Sionni’s comments to be inappropriate and has asked Mr. Sionni to cease his campaign activities,” Morash said.

Can the Gemma-Cicilline joust for the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District go any lower?

Those of us who have covered politics in Rhode Island longer than we like to admit can’t ever recall a campaign staffer referring to the opponent in a public sphere as a pedophile.

Yet, that is precisely what Anthony Gemma campaign staffer, Anthony Sionni, has done as the days dwindle down to the Sept. 11 Democratic primary.

Sinnoni took to his Twitter account to say that Cicilline  is a “liar, thief, crook,  Sandusky copy cat.’’

Sandusky, of course, refers to Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coaching assistant who is a convicted pedophile.

“We are not convinced that his statement wasn’t issued intentionally, as part of a smear campaign that Gemma has perpetuated over the past week and a half,’’ said Bill Fischer, spokesman for state Democratic Party Chairman Edwin Pacheco.

“This is the latest example of reckless and irresponsible behavior from Mr. Gemma’s campaign,’’ said Fischer in a Democratic Party statement. “Last week Mr. Gemma’s sensational press conference, attempting to tie Congressman Cicilline to voter fraud failed miserably.

“Now, this week, his campaign has resorted to comparing the congressman to Jerry Sandusky. These campaign tactics are irrational, slanderous and hateful. It’s abundantly clear that Mr. Gemma doesn’t know where the line is. We want to assure him that he has crossed it,’’ said Fischer.

“The RI Democratic Party requests that Mr. Gemma disavow his staffer’s statement; termineta the staffer; apologize to Mr. Cicilline for slandering him; and apologize to the voters of Rhode Island,’’ Fischer said. “Those would be good first steps toward decency.’’