THOMASTON, Maine — State Rep. Chuck Kruger said he is sincerely sorry about a poor attempt at humor last year but that the reaction has gone too far, including death threats against him.
Kruger, a Thomaston Democrat, said he was in a Twitter conversation last August concerning a person who said her brother had died after coming back from the Iraq war and not being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
After extensive debate he said he made a poor attempt at humor by saying that former Vice President Dick Cheney should meet the same fate as former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Last week, an online publication, The Maine Wire, ran an article which included what it said was the tweet from Kruger concerning Cheney. The headline, from the news service started by the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, said, “‘Moderate Caucus’ Chair Urges Cheney’s Execution.”
Kruger said Thursday he does not recall the exact Twitter message but denied he ever called for the execution of the vice president, even in jest.
“I do know that Twitter is not private and that it was a mistake. I am sincerely sorry for making the comment,” Kruger said.
The Maine Republican Party stepped in and on April 13 issued a news release from Chairman Charlie Webster calling for the Kruger’s resignation.
On Thursday, Maine Republican Party Executive Director Michael Quatrano said the call for Kruger’s resignation remains.
“Imagine if a Republican legislator had made such a comment about the vice president or President Obama. The Democrats would be seeking blood,” Quatrano said.
The Republican Party news release indicated that Kruger stated on his Twitter account that “Cheney deserves same final end he gave Saddam. Hope there are cell cams.”
Webster stated in the news release: “Never in decades in Maine politics have I heard an elected official make such irresponsible, disgusting statements. I don’t care what your policy differences are, wishing someone to be executed, and then wanting to watch it happen, is an appalling thing to say about anyone.”
In an email sent by the Republican Party to its members on April 12, Kruger’s cellphone number was listed and members were urged to call him and demand his resignation.
Since The Maine Wire article was posted, Kruger said he has received 350 to 400 critical emails and voice mails. He said a few of the calls were of a threatening nature.
“A couple people from out-of-state left phone messages saying they were going to come up and execute me,” Kruger said.
Kruger said he was working at the State House on April 13 when he received a phone call from a man in Texas who said he wanted to come up to Maine and execute Kruger. Another state representative heard the call and contacted the Bureau of Capitol Police.
Kruger said some officers talked to him and took recordings of the threatening voice mails and made copies of the critical emails.
Capitol Police Chief Russell Gauvin said Thursday that some people from Maine who made veiled threats were contacted to determine whether they presented a threat. When asked about the out-of-state threats, Gauvin said the investigation continues.
Kruger said he believes that listing his telephone number and the call for his resignation over an 8-month-old tweet were wrong.
“I do not wish ill or death on anyone. It was a mistake,” Kruger said.