ILLINOIS (WCIA) — A series of pictures posted online after a Friday night political fundraising event for state Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) show an event attendee pointing what appears to be a fake assault weapon at another person wearing a Mexican costume and a mask of President Donald Trump.
Donors paid a minimum of $250 to attend Sandoval’s golf outing at the Klein Creek Golf Club in west suburban Winfield. A woman who attended the event posted the photos to her Facebook page on Saturday and tagged Sandoval in them. Sandoval is pictured separately posing with the man who held the fake weapon, but it remains unclear if the Senator knew about the incident when it occurred.
The mock assassination pose drew quick, bipartisan condemnation from Governor J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Democratic Party, and from the Illinois Republican Party alike.
“As our nation grapples with the epidemic of gun violence, purposely pointing a fake gun at anyone is insensitive and wrong,” Pritzker said Saturday night. “I condemn actions like the ones displayed in the pictures because they lack the civility our politics demands.”
“The tragedies in El Paso and Gilroy have demonstrated how hate-filled political rhetoric can fuel violence,” Maura Possley, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Illinois, said. “These images are unacceptable and dangerous. The place to make our voices heard against Trump is at the ballot box.”
Sandoval, a powerful state lawmaker who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee and was a driving force behind the recent gas tax increase to fund the ‘Rebuild Illinois’ capital plan, issued an apology in an emailed statement.
“The incident that took place is unacceptable,” he said. “I don’t condone violence toward the President or anyone else. I apologize that something like this happened at my event.”
Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider called on Sandoval to fire the person in the photo if they were a staffer or volunteer.
“The apology from Sen. Sandoval for the detestable pictures from his event depicting an assassination of President Trump is too little, too late,” Schneider said via a spokesman. “Dangerous imagery like this will be condemned and seen as inappropriate by people of sound mind; however, a mentally unstable individual who wants to harm President Trump might find them as an inspiration. It’s inexcusable for an elected official to allow the promotion of violence in any way. If the individual pictured is a staffer or volunteer, they should be terminated immediately.”
Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to President Trump, said on Twitter Sunday night that other Democrats should be asked if they support or disavow the images.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include the location of the event and origin of the photos.