In what could be a long-lasting controversy most aptly described as TacoGate (thanks, Twitter!), a Connecticut mayor apologized Wednesday for racially insensitive remarks about the town’s Latino community.
“My sincerest apologies go out to the East Haven community and, in particular, the Latino community,” East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo said in a statement obtained by HLN. “Unfortunately, I let the stress of the situation get the best of me and inflamed what is already a serious and unfortunate situation. I regret my insensitive comment and realize that it is my job to lead by example.”
By "stress of the situation," Maturo means the arrest of four police officers accused of targeting the town’s Latino community. Known as “Miller’s Boys,” the trio of officers that worked for Sgt. John Miller was arrested by the FBI on several charges, including conspiracy and false arrest, according to an indictment posted online by the Connecticut Post.
In response to a reporter’s question Tuesday on what overture he could make to improve relations with the Latino community, Maturo remarked that he "might have tacos" as an initial step.
The mayor initially attributed the faux pas to the fact that he was fatigued after doing up to 14 interviews, but in an unparalleled self-generated media circus not seen since perhaps P.T. Barnum, Maturo continues to do more media: On Wednesday, he called into WPLR’s Chaz & AJ Show, saying, “What a dumb, off the cuff, stupid remark”.
“I know people have said something to me about my Italian heritage and they didn’t mean it and I took offense to it and -- you know how we all get -- and my gander got up and … when I thought about it I said, 'You know, that person really didn’t mean nothing by it,' and that’s exactly what happened yesterday,” he said.
But the damage was done. On Wednesday, Reform Immigration FOR America initiated a Twitter campaign to send tacos to the mayor's office -- which people could do by texting a number.
Also, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy demanded that the mayor apologize.
"The comments by East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo are repugnant. They represent either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable. Being tired is no excuse. He owes an apology to the community, and more importantly, he needs to show what he's going to do to repair the damage he's done. And he needs to do it today."
On Wednesday morning, radio hosts Chaz & AJ asked the mayor what he had for breakfast. He didn't go there again.