February 01. 2013 6:48PM

Lawmaker apologizes for 're-Tweeting' post implying wish Cheney would shoot Scalia

Senior Political Reporter

A Democratic state legislator apologized Friday for forwarding a Twitter post that implied a wish for the shooting of a United States Supreme Court Justice.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan's apology came after state Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn read about the post in a New Hampshire Union Leader editorial and called on Democratic House speaker Terie Norelli to reprimand him.

Norelli did not respond to Horn or the Union Leader's requests for comment.

Horrigan, who resigned two years ago after joking about "a dead (Sarah) Palin," on Wednesday re-Tweeted a Tweet from Kara Vallow, a producer of animated prime time programs at the Fox television network, which said:

"I know I'm going to hate myself for saying this, but I hope Cheney lives long enough to go duck hunting with Scalia again."

Vice President Dick Cheney in 2006 accidentally shot his friend, Harry Whittington, while they were duck hunting. Cheney has also gone duck hunting with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia over the years.

Horrigan, a Durham resident, said he is a distant acquaintance of Vallow and decided to re-Tweet her Tweet because "the Republicans have been a little bit hypocritical about the gun violence issue."

He said he had just seen a Tweet David Wheeler, the father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Ben Wheeler.

"I went to grade school with David Wheeler, and he's a very awesome person, so I was kind of angry about some of the gun stuff," Horrigan said, "especially since I know someone whose son was murdered.

"It's not something I said myself," Horrigan said. "But yes, I did re-Tweet it."

But he said after his post received "bad reaction" from some Republicans and conservatives, "I took it down."

"I certainly don't want Justice Scalia to be shot by Dick Cheney or anyone else," Horrigan said. "I'm certainly apologetic.

"It was nothing personal" against them, he said.

Among the conservatives who noticed Horrigan's re-Tweet before it was deleted was Drew Cline, editorial page director of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Cline on Friday editorialized that Horrigan had "forwarded from his Twitter account a joke in which the writer expressed hope that former Vice President Dick Cheney would shoot conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia."

The editorial asked, (W)hy does Horrigan find humor in the gruesome early deaths of conservatives?"

It noted that after the 2011 shootings of former U.S. Rep. Garbrielle Giffords and others in Tuscon, Ariz., "Democrats insisted that violent imagery be purged from political discourse. Except, of course, when they use it."

State Republican Party Chair Horn cited the editorial in an open letter to Norelli.

"As the leader of the Democratic Caucus and speaker, it is your responsibility to publicly condemn these hateful statements and discipline Representative Horrigan in order to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives," Horn wrote. "A failure to denounce his comments will serve as a sign that the Democratic House Leadership is willing to tolerate this type of reprehensible behavior."

Norelli did not return calls for comment and an aide in her office emailed, "Given that none of us has seen the Tweet from Rep. Horrigan, I don't think anyone can respond."

State Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley said Horrigan "appropriately apologized."

He said, "I welcome this new Republican attitude of calling on elected officials to act in a respectful manner. I hope that Chair Horn will be as eager to call out Republicans for their bad behavior as she does with others.

"If so," Buckley said, "she will be very busy issuing press releases reining in her legislators. Representative Horrigan has appropriately apologized. I can provide Chair (Horn) the list of Republican legislators who also owe the public an apology for their extremely inappropriate words and behavior."

Horrigan in 2010 resigned his seat after posting on Facebook that "a dead (Sarah) Palin would be even more dangerous than a live one....she is all about her myth and if she was dead she cldn't (sic) commit any more gaffes."

He was replying to a post by then-Democratic House candidate Keith David Halloran that he wished Palin and her daughter's former boyfriend, Levi Johnston, had died in a plane crash in Alaska that killed former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

Despite the controversy, Horrigan was later reelected to his seat.

Horrigan said, "If the speaker and leadership wants to reprimand me, I'll accept it gracefully but I'm not planning to resign.

"I know some people are still upset about the Palin thing," he said. "I probably should have stayed away from anything that has to do with Republicans and guns."