(Updated 6 p.m.) Despite having publicly apologized for his transgression, State Rep. Brandon McGee said Tuesday that he has received death threats from Facebook users since a photo showing his BMW parked illegally in a handicapped spot began circulating on the social networking site.
McGee is vice chair of the Human Services Committee, which also oversees programs for the disabled. He said he reported the threats to Facebook and is in the “process of” reporting the threats to the Capitol Police.
On Friday, McGee parked in a handicapped parking spot outside the Dunkin’ Donuts on Capitol Avenue. The photo made the rounds on social media over the weekend after being posted to the “We the People” blog run by Kevin Brookman of Hartford. McGee says he was there for less than three minutes and was running in for food between meetings at the Capitol and his full-time job.
“What I don’t want to do is continue on something I’ve already made an apology on,” McGee said after a Human Services Committee meeting Tuesday. “I’d like to move forward.”
On Sunday, McGee posted the following on his Facebook page:
“Dear Friends, this should not of happened and I made a mistake. I apologize to all the people who rely on handicap parking being available and everyone else who does the right thing every day by leaving those spaces open and parking elsewhere. There is no excuse for my bad behavior and I am truly sorry. Brandon.”
McGee said he didn’t remove the apology he made from Facebook, but he had to change his privacy settings so that people who are not already friends with him would not be able to make “derogatory comments” on the page.
He said that’s why it was important for him to get on television news Monday to make sure all of his constituents in Hartford and parts of Windsor, who may not be Facebook friends with him, knew he was sorry.
McGee said he didn’t think it was beneficial to allow individuals to continue to make harsh comments on his Facebook page.
“I made a mistake. I’m sorry, but I also think that everyone should know where I stand,” McGee said before stopping to ask two reporters fumbling with their phones Tuesday to get a better picture of him.
McGee said he’s meeting with his staff and House leadership to figure out what’s next. He’s researching organizations he can make a contribution to since he didn’t receive a ticket for parking illegally in a handicapped spot.
The contribution would be the equivalent of the cost of the parking ticket for parking in a handicapped spot. A ticket for a first offense is $150.
“I’m a public leader and we have to lead by example,” McGee said. “I am not above anybody or the law, so I’m not making light of the situation.”
McGee said that’s why it was important that he accepted responsibility and made his apology in the place where the incident happened at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Capitol Avenue.
House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said he considers the matter closed.
“I talked to Rep. McGee about the seriousness of his lapse in judgment. He is rightfully embarrassed, he made a public apology, and will donate the cost of the ticket he could have received to an appropriate charity,” Sharkey said in a statement. “From my standpoint, the matter is closed.”
The photo of McGee parking in a handicapped spot was taken on Friday and posted to the “We the People” blog run by Kevin Brookman of Hartford on Saturday. By Sunday, McGee posted an apology on his Facebook page and by Monday McGee gave interviews to television news stations.