Ted Yoho apologizes after reportedly verbally accosting Ocasio-Cortez over stance on unemployment, crime in New York
Editor’s note: This story contains vulgar language.
Rep. Ted Yoho, a Florida Republican, apologized Wednesday after he got into a heated exchange with Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on Monday. According to an account published in The Hill, Yoho said “f**king b*tch” as he walked away.
Yoho’s office denies that he made the comment, telling CNN in a statement Tuesday that he “made a brief comment to himself as he walked away summarizing what he believes her policies to be: bullshit.” On Wednesday morning, Yoho apologized on the House floor to Ocasio-Cortez for the “abrupt manner of the conversation” he had with her, but he continued to deny using the vulgar term to describe her.
According to the reporter from The Hill, who overheard the initial remarks, Yoho came up to Ocasio-Cortez outside the House steps and sparked a conversation about her position on unemployment and crime in New York City. Yoho said she was “disgusting” and told her she is out of her mind, according to The Hill’s story. Ocasio-Cortez said he was being rude.
She confirmed the confrontation occurred in a tweet Tuesday morning.
“I never spoke to Rep. Yoho before he decided to accost me on the steps of the nation’s Capitol yesterday. Believe it or not, I usually get along fine w/ my GOP colleagues. We know how to check our legislative sparring at the committee door,” she wrote. “But hey, ‘b*tches’ get stuff done.”
Yoho’s communications director told CNN in a statement Tuesday that the congressman “had a brief member to member conversation on the steps of the Capitol. As you know, these conversations happen frequently when the House is in session.”
“He did not call Rep. Ocasio-Cortez what has been reported in the Hill or any name for that matter. It sounds better for the Hill newspaper and gets more media attention to say he called her a name – which he did not do. It is unfortunate that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is using this exchange to gain personal attention,” the spokesman said.
In his apology Wednesday, Yoho said it “is true that we disagree on policies and visions for America, but that does not mean we should be disrespectful.”
He said he never used the “offensive name calling, words attributed to me by the press.” He added that he is “passionate” about those affected by poverty and believes those in poverty can rise beyond their troubles “without being encouraged to break the law,” the subject of their conversation.
“I will commit to each of you that I will conduct myself from a place of passion and understanding that policy and political disagreement be vigorously debated with the knowledge that we approach the problems facing our nation with the betterment of the country in mind and the people we serve. I cannot apologize for my passion or for loving my God, my family and my country,” Yoho said.
His apology came after he met with House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to discuss the matter on Tuesday afternoon.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said the decision to apologize was appropriate.
“I hope that Mr. Yoho feels that apology sincerely, and I hope all of us will take a lesson to think before we speak so harshly to one another,” he said.
But Ocasio-Cortez said Yoho’s remarks were insufficient.
“I will not teach my nieces and young people watching that this an apology, and what they should learn to accept,” she wrote. “Yoho is refusing responsibility.”
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