State Rep. Apologizes for Telling Gabby Giffords to Stay Away

A state representative is apologizing for a Facebook post warning Gabby Giffords to stay away, ahead of the former Arizona congresswoman's visit with Sandy Hook Elementary victims' families last week in Newtown.

"Gabby Giffords stay out of my towns," the post on the Facebook page for State Rep. DebraLee Hovey, a Republican who represents Newtown and Monroe, said last week.
Former U.S. Rep. Giffords survived a shooting in Tuscon, Ariz., in 2011 that killed six people, including a judge and a young girl. She and her husband have been advocates for stricter gun laws.

NBC Connecticut tried to reach Hovey about the comment, but she was unavailable. In the days after, there were several blogs and opinion pieces criticizing Hovey.

On Monday, she issued an apology for the comments she posted online.

"The remarks I made regarding Congresswoman Giffords' visit were insensitive and if I offended anyone I truly apologize," Rep. Hovey said in a statement.

"My comments were meant to be protective of the privacy of the families and our community as we work to move on, and were in no way intended as an insult to Congresswoman Giffords personally. Our community has struggled greatly through this tragedy, and we are all very sensitive to the potential for this event to be exploited for political purposes. This is what I wish to avoid," she added.

Hovey was in Florida last week to attend a board meeting of the Women in Government national organization when Giffords visited.

"The events of Dec. 14 affected all of us deeply and like many others I am still working through my grief and trying to come to terms with what happened, how we as a community and a state move forward and how we can prevent horrific events like this from occurring in the future," Hovey said.

"My deepest condolences continue to go out to the families, the community of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown and Connecticut," she continued.

Hovey’s office said she has been a strong advocate for her district and has called for a dialogue on mental health issues, improving school safety and gun control.

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