Martin Sandoval, an influential Democratic state senator from Illinois, apologized for a photo that surfaced from one of his fundraising events in which a man holding what appears to be a fake assault weapon points it at a man wearing a Donald Trump mask.
According to Central Illinois CBS affiliate WCIA, the Friday night event at a Chicago suburb golf club was for donors who paid a minimum of $250 to attend. A woman at the event posted photos on Facebook the next day showing both the mock assassination photos and separate photos of Sandoval standing with the man in the offending photo. Nothing in the post indicated where Sandoval was when the man holding a fake firearm posed for the photo, and it’s unclear if Sandoval knew of the incident when it happened.
“The incident that took place is unacceptable,” Sandoval said in an email to WCIA. “I don’t condone violence toward the President or anyone else. I apologize that something like this happened at my event.”
In the photo, a man points his fake firearm at another man dressed in a Mexican costume and a Trump mask. The fake Trump holds his hands to his chest, as if afraid or injured.
Democrats and Republicans in state government condemned the photo. A spokesperson for the Democratic Party in Illinois called the photo “dangerous.” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said Saturday that the photo indicated a lack of “civility” in politics. “As our nation grapples with the epidemic of gun violence, purposely pointing a fake gun at anyone is insensitive and wrong,” he said.
Republicans expressed that they were unhappy with Sandoval’s response. “The apology from Sen. Sandoval for the detestable pictures from his event depicting an assassination of President Trump is too little, too late,” the state Republican Party’s chairman said in a statement, according to WCIA. “It’s inexcusable for an elected official to allow the promotion of violence in any way.”