U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss on Thursday apologized to the author of a gay-oriented blog for a threatening slur posted from his office, declaring, “All [gays] must die.”
In a prepared statement, Chambliss also spoke of the immediate “removal” of a staff member – who was not identified.
The wording is important. We’re picking up that the staffer was a military liaison assigned by the Pentagon — a fact that Chambliss’ office would not confirm.
A staffer under Chambliss’ direct employ would have been fired. A staffer under another entity’s supervision would be reassigned. Or removed. (My AJC colleague Bob Keefe pinned down the fact that the computer used was located in Chambliss’s Washington office.)
The blog comment at issue was left Sept. 21 on a discussion of whether gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the military on “Joe.My.Blog,” a site operated by Joe Jervis of New York City – perhaps an hour after the U.S. Senate turned away an attempt to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Blog participants quickly tracked the Internet Protocol address to Chambliss’ office.
Chambliss last week condemned the comment, and requested an investigation by the U.S. Senate sergeant-at-arms, who acts as the chamber’s top law enforcement officer.
The statement from Chambliss’ office:
“The office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms has concluded its investigation, and I responded to that report immediately with the removal of a member of my staff. I commend the Sergeant at Arms, Terrance Gainer, and his staff for their very thorough and professional work.
“I have called Mr. Jervis, the blog’s author, and apologized to him personally, and I am sorry for the hurt this incident has caused. Regardless of one’s position on issues and policies, such comments are simply unacceptable, are not befitting those who work in the U.S. Senate, and I will not tolerate them from my staff.”
Jervis, who monitors JoeMyGod, confirmed his conversation with Chambliss and paraphrased the senator’s remarks:
”He said, ‘Joe, I don’t know if you’re Republican or Democrat, or liberal or conservative. But none of that should matter because what was said on your blog shouldn’t be said to anybody by anybody. And I want to offer my sincerest apologies.’
“He said, ‘There’s been a lot of criticism about why it’s taken so long to bring this to a resolution. But this is something that’s going to dramatically affect someone’s life, and we had to make sure we got it exactly right.’”
Jervis accepted Chambliss’ apology.
“I consider the matter closed. The gentleman is no longer in Chambliss’ office,” he said. “I’m pretty sure if he were a direct Chambliss hire, we would know his name. I don’t think he was Chambliss’ to fire.
“I was never calling for this guy’s head. I just wanted the senator himself to address the issue and say that this can’t happen in my office. He has done that.”