Nebraska Democratic Party Chair Jane Kleeb removed a party official from his post Thursday after a recording surfaced of him making offensive remarks about the shooting of U.S. Rep Steve Scalise.
Kleeb removed Phil Montag on Thursday morning as co-chair of the state party’s technology committee after The World-Herald sent her a link to the recording on a black advocacy website.
In the recording, Montag said he wished Scalise was dead, and he called the Louisiana Republican obscene names. The conversation took place in a private home in Omaha between Montag, Nebraska Democratic Party Black Caucus Chair Chelsey Gentry-Tipton and a friend of hers. In an interview Thursday, Montag said that he was “horrified” by the shooting of Scalise and all gun violence, that he “absolutely” did not wish Scalise was dead and that the recording had been edited to take his words out of context.
“I did not call for the congressman’s death,” Montag said.
Scalise, the House majority whip, and four other people were shot June 14 at a Washington, D.C., area baseball field as Republicans practiced for a congressional baseball game. The gunman was shot and later died. Scalise’s injuries were life-threatening; he is still hospitalized and listed in fair condition.
On Thursday, Kleeb acted immediately upon hearing the recording.
“This is the first I am hearing this,” Kleeb said by email Thursday morning. “As soon as I heard it, I sent it to the (party) officers and then sent an email to Phil Montag informing him I am removing him from his appointed position as Co-Chair of the Technology Committee. … Wishing a Member of Congress or any individual dead is disgusting and has no place in our party.”
Kleeb said she reported the recorded conversation to the police because she viewed Montag’s remarks as a possible death threat.
“I’ll leave that to the police to determine their next steps,” she said. “That’s not my role.”