Pa. House GOP leaders grow frustrated with Democrats' response to Rep. Brian Sims' 'egregious and unacceptable behavior'
FILE PHOTO: State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, accompanied by other officials, speaks at a protest calling on Pennsylvania to add sexual orientation to its hate crime law at John F. Kennedy Plaza, also known as Love Park in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP)
(Harrisburg) — House Republican leaders say they got frustrated over inaction by their Democratic counterparts to reprimand Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Brian Sims for his behavior toward anti-abortion rights protesters so they issued their own stern rebuke.
In a statement issued on Wednesday the GOP leaders called Sims’ berating of a protesters outside a Planned Parenthood facility in Philadelphia that drew national media attention, “the worst in how people should behave and treat one another in a civil society.”
Sims, who did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday, has expressed sincere regret for his actions which were recorded and posted on social media, said House Democratic spokesman Bill Patton. Sims posted a two-minute video on Twitter pledging to “do better for the women of Pennsylvania.” Access to his personal Twitter account is now restricted to confirmed followers.
“Last week and this week, Sims discussed his behavior at length with leadership of the House in both parties,” Patton said on Thursday. “Democratic leaders addressed the matter with Sims privately and are satisfied it will not be repeated. Republican leaders are aware of this.”
Maybe so, but apparently that isn’t enough to suit the GOP leaders or the people who have complained to them about what they call “egregious and unacceptable behavior.”
House GOP spokesman Mike Straub said on Thursday, “After no action was taken in a timely manner, our leadership felt compelled to express their frustrations on behalf of the Pennsylvanians disappointed by the lack of response from our Democratic colleagues.”
In the nearly eight-minute video of the woman protesting outside the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania that is posted on anti-abortion rights website Life Site, Sims can be heard criticizing her for “shaming people for doing what they have a constitutional right to do” and calling her “an old white lady” several times as the camera remained trained on her.
In another video that surfaced and also is posted on that site, Sims approaches a woman demonstrating outside the same facility accompanied by three teen-age girls and calling them “pseudo Christian.” He offered $100 for any online viewer who could identify the three girls and he would donate to Planned Parenthood.
A “Pro-Life Rally Against Bullying” drew a large crowd outside the Planned Parenthood facility last week in response to Sims’ haranguing of the anti-abortion rights protesters. They called on his to resign.
In the Republican leaders’ statement about Sims’ behavior, they say, “The actions of one member are a reflection on all of us, regardless of party affiliation, and the pledge we all take to serve the people of our commonwealth. The victims of Rep. Sims’ actions deserve a sincere apology as do the members of the House.”
It goes on to say: “Our caucus has given Rep. Sims time to take responsibility for his behavior and show he is willing to treat people who have opinions different from his own with the respect befitting a member of the House of Representatives. We expect House Democratic Leadership to address this. We are extremely disappointed that Rep. Sims’ actions have caused harm to his victims and to our chamber.”
This statement comes on the heels of last week’s lecture on the House floor to all members on the need to act in a respectful manner and as House GOP Leader Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County said people “expect better from us.”
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