The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)
Rep. Simms apologizes for hot-mic expletives
State Sen. Tony Hwang was quick-witted this week when an unmuted fellow lawmaker, state Rep. Travis Simms, D-Norwalk, let loose with some random curse words during a public hearing held by the Transportation Committee.
The incident occurred on Monday, about 20 minutes into testimony by Garrett Eucalitto, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, who was discussing the state’s Vision Zero initiative, aimed at reducing vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. Hwang, from Fairfield, in his eighth term in the General Assembly and a top Republican on the committee, was in the middle of several questions with Eucalitto when Simms suddenly blurted two expletives.
Simms’ oaths have been scrubbed from the video recording of the moment, which was first reported by Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie. The candid moment elicited a chuckle from Eucalitto and a quick ad lib from Hwang. “Welcome to the world of Zoom,” Hwang said.
On Wednesday, Simms, in his
third term, said he was sorry for the slip up and that his unmuted, graphic remarks had nothing to do with the legislative business at hand in that moment.
“In response to the unfortunate recording during a recent
Zoom hearing, I want to extend my sincerest apology and convey my utmost respect for my Transportation Committee colleagues, chairs, ranking members, and constituents,” Simms said in a statement. “My comment was
not directed at anybody, especially Transportation Commissioner Eucalitto, whom I hold in high esteem for his steadfast dedication to improving our state’s quality of life and roadway infrastructure.”
Both Hwang and Simms were participating in the hearing virtually, under General Assembly rules that go back to the resumption of the 2020 legislative session that was drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the current rules, members of the public may testify before committees either in person or over Zoom. Lawmakers may also participate in committee meetings in person or virtually. On days when the House and Senate meet to debate bills, lawmakers must be in either the State Capitol building or the adjacent Legislative Office Building to vote.
“We are in the age of videoconferencing, and it gives legislators driving from longer distances the ability to listen into hearings that they might have otherwise missed,” said Todd Murphy, spokesman for the House Democratic caucus. “But technology always comes with downsides – in this case the ‘mute’ button. Rep. Simms rightly apologized for cursing but this was simply an open mic gaffe, and I don’t think we want to make a bigger deal out of it than that.”