GOP Pennsylvania Lawmaker Compares Gov. Tom Wolf's Handling of Coronavirus to the Nazi Party

A Pennsylvania state representative has been condemned after comparing what he saw as Gov. Tom Wolf's lack of transparency during the coronavirus pandemic to Hitler's Nazi regime.

Rep. Cris Dush, a Republican serving Jefferson County, described Wolf's apparent withholding of information such as recovery rates to the press as reminiscent of a "socialist playbook" during a House State Government Committee hearing.

"The press has been having a very difficult time fulfilling its responsibilities to the public getting information out because this governor has repeatedly refused all sorts of information," Dush said.

"More and more I go back to the German Democratic Nationalist Socialist Party, the Nazi Party. I go to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR. This is a socialist playbook."

Dush was then interrupted by Rep. Kevin Boyle, who described the comparison as "outrageous."

Dush defended his remarks as merely referring to history. "When you start hiding stuff from the public, when you start hiding things from the press, and not allowing it to come out, there is a genuine reason for concern.

"Like I said, it's a socialist playbook," Dush added. "It's important for the people of this state to start having access to information, rather than having it set aside and hidden for an agenda."

Boyle further criticized the comments from Dush later on the committee floor.

"I utterly, utterly condemned Dush's comments. I've been in the legislature, this is my 10th year, and this is the first reference to Nazism that I have heard in committee or on the house floor," he said.

"The contrast between the approach of the Wolf administration and the Nazi party could not be more clear. The Wolf administration has been enacting policies to protect human life. The Nazi party was responsible for the murder of at least six million Jews.

"Furthermore, I am highly disappointed that no Republican members immediately chimed in to condemn Dush's comments."

Dush later apologized for his remarks on the House floor.

In a statement, Rep. Dan Frankel, said he was "horrified" by the Nazi comparison.

"The Nazi Party and its leaders systematically murdered more than six million Jews and many others in an attempt to create a dominate race."

"Any effort to muddy that history dishonors all of the innocent lives lost, and it frankly feeds the ugly resurgence of hate-based groups that are actively using COVID-19 to foment their message of intolerance throughout the country," he said.

"I appreciate that Representative Dush acknowledged his mistake, but no amount of back-peddling changes the fact that there are very active and dangerous anti-Semitic groups out there that read his comments as encouragement."

In a statement, Wolf spokesperson Lyndsay Kensinger told Penn Live: "In the last few days, House Republicans have shared fake reopening plans online and a rank and file member has compared the Administration to Nazis while Republican members have spent time moving legislation to reopen zoos during a global pandemic and rallied with activists who have made threats against the governor.

"We badly need partners in the Legislature who will take the challenge before them seriously instead of using it to divide the commonwealth."

Elsewhere, a coalition of Jewish-affiliated organizations, including the Philadelphia branch of the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, issued a group statement condemning Dush's remarks.

"Such rhetoric diminishes the horrific atrocities committed by the Nazis and is offensive and wrong," the statement said.

"While we appreciate that Rep. Dush did issue an apology on the House floor several hours later, we are deeply disappointed that he did not immediately retract his comments when the vice-chair of the Committee requested that he do so, and that in his Floor remarks he did not directly acknowledge what he had said and why it was wrong.

"We are grateful for the House members who recognize that even in—especially in—heated political debate, this rhetoric is unacceptable."

Dush and the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus have been contacted for comment.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks on stage during the Geisinger National Symposium, "From Crisis to Cure: Revitalizing America's Healthcare System," on November 9, 2017 in Danville, Pennsylvania. Rep. Cris Dush has been condemned for comparing Wolf's lack of transparency during the coronavirus pandemc to the Nazi regime. Getty