SPRINGFIELD-State Sen. Donne Trotter apologized Tuesday for insensitive remarks he made directed at a member of Gov. Pat Quinn's cabinet in a gaffe that a top Chicago Jewish group condemned as "Nazi-linked name-calling."
Trotter's comment came on the heels of a letter he co-signed sent to Gov. Pat Quinn last week on behalf of the African-American and Latino Senate caucuses pressing Quinn to replace Julie Hamos, director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
"Hitler supported Goebbels too and his propaganda he was pushing forth during his crusade. So if this is the person, this is the face you want to represent your administration, then we need to get rid of both of them," Trotter told WUIS-FM, a public-radio station in Springfield.
Hamos lost three grandparents to the Holocaust and is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor.
"I apologize to Director Hamos. My comments were inappropriate and wrong," Trotter said in a prepared statement. "My focus will remain on the egregious disregard toward some of the most vulnerable people in our state: the mentally ill, the profoundly disabled, the sickest the old and young."
Trotter is one of Cullerton's assistant majority leaders and has been a state lawmaker for 25 years.
Quinn's office has said it still backs Hamos as director, but the group of state senators who signed the letter insist on her ousting, pointing to budget cuts for the poor, elderly and disabled.
The Chicago Jewish Federation on Tuesday condemned Trotter's remark.
"Rather than focus the budget discussion on how to make the difficult decisions confronting the Illinois Legislature, state Sen. Trotter instead resorted to distracting, divisive and inflammatory demagoguery," David Brown, Jewish Federation board chairman, said in a written statement.
"His analogy is profoundly insulting to the character of our state's chief executive and one of his top deputies. It also diminishes the reality of the Holocaust and so is shockingly disrespectful - indeed disparaging - of those who fought the actual Nazis and those who were their victims. The people of Illinois deserve much better from our elected officials."
Trotter's latest mishap is just one gaffe in a series of recent public relations blunders. Last December, police arrested him after he walked into O'Hare Airport with a .25-caliber Beretta and a loaded ammunition clip.
He "wasn't thinking," Trotter had said. He later pleaded guilty in April to misdemeanor reckless conduct and was sentenced to one year of court supervision.
Last December, Trotter was linked to indicted former Country Club Hills police chief Regina Evans, who was charged in a money laundering scheme involving $1.25 million in state grant funds. The Sun-Times reported Trotter had urged state authorities not to try recouping the money that had allegedly been misspent by Evans and her husband, Ronald Evans.
Trotter was a candidate for ex-Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s seat at the time. He dropped out from that race less than a month later.
Trotter would not comment to the Sun-Times Tuesday, declining multiple requests for an interview from the Senate press box after the chamber had cleared the floor for adjournment.