Courtesy of the Senate Democratic Facebook page
Sen. Cathy Osten and colleagues outside the Sprague Public Library (Courtesy of the Senate Democratic Facebook page)

SPRAGUE, CT — Senate Democrats and Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano swiftly condemned Facebook comments threatening violence against Sen. Cathy Osten.

Osten is running for re-election as First Selectman in her hometown of Sprague and the comments were posted on the Connecticut Republican’s Facebook page.

At a press conference outside the Sprague Public Library, Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said “a line is crossed when there is something that moves into an area of a threat.”

A commenter threatened to “shot her.” The comment was attached to a post of a photo of tire tracks on a lawn that the person posting alleges were made by Osten.

Another commenter said “I would have pulled her out that care and knocked her out. Then called the cops and new stations—I do A LOT of work to my lawn to keep it looking nice, screw that.”

JR Romano, chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, said the comments have been deleted, but he didn’t think to call police.

“Its outrageous that a post about Cathy Osten driving on someone’s lawn would generate such an over the top and disappointing response,” Romano said. “These posts are from random people not connected to the Republican Party. Unfortunately, it demonstrates a sad and tragic part social media.” 

Republican Senate Leader Len Fasano said he agrees with Looney and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff about the importance of speaking out against hate.

“There is a serious problem on social media that has nothing to do with political parties,” Fasano said. “Far too many people hide behind their keyboard and write vicious, hurtful and despicable comments about people on social media. Sometimes Republicans are targeted. Sometimes Democrats are. It is always unacceptable behavior. Social media allows people to speak their mind, but it should never allow people to make threatening statements.”

Senate Democrats reported the comments to state Capitol Police and the State Police.

Looney said this has nothing to do with partisan politics.

Last week Looney was critical of a Democrat in New Britain who made comments about who last week condemned comments made by a Democrat running for New Britain City Council against Republican Mayor Erin Stewart.

Antonio Tee Lavoy Sr. referred to Stewart as “the fat [expletive]” and “a $3 [expletive]” in comments on a Facebook forum.

Looney said “the comments by Mr. Lavoy are sexist, offensive, and do not represent the voice and values of the Democratic Party. This kind of misogyny has no place in our public discourse.”

Duff said they all know they will be criticized when they get into public service, but these threats are “completely over-the-top and reckless.”

He said it sends a “signal to people who are in office and considering public service that they should not get involved.”

Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz also sent out a statement about both the comments aimed at Stewart and Osten.

“The repeated sexist attacks on Mayor Erin Stewart and threats of violence directed at Senator Cathy Osten are vile and reprehensible,” the two said. “While none of this is new unfortunately – especially for women candidates and elected officials – this harassment must end now. At a time when women have made tremendous strides in elected office and made their voices heard, attacks like this only make the challenges they face more difficult. Our democracy works best when we display respect and dignity towards all citizens, including those who are willing to step up and serve, rather than shaming or attacking them.”