Republican candidate blames now-fired staffer for tweet calling Ukrainian president a 'thug'
A Chicago-area Republican congressional candidate on Monday said a now-fired staffer was responsible for a tweet on his account that called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a "corrupt thug" while Zelenskyy and his people defend their country against Russia's invasion.
The tweet, which has since been deleted, appeared on 14th District candidate Jack Lombardi's Twitter page about midnight Sunday.
It read, in part: "The Ukrainian people are in my heart and prayers. However, President Zelensky is a corrupt thug who leads a corrupt government."
Lombardi said he didn't write the tweet and that a campaign worker who had been assisting with tweets did. Lombardi said he learned about the tweet Monday morning after being contacted by the Daily Herald and someone else.
"This (staff) member was terminated immediately when the tweet was brought to our attention," Lombardi, of Manhattan, said in an email.
Lombardi went on to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people will stand the test of time as defenders of freedom," Lombardi said. "This unprovoked and evil aggression must not stand."
Lombardi's tweet resembled remarks Republican U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina made during a recent speech. Cawthorn's comments have been criticized by Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
The tweet appeared -- and vanished -- hours before congressional leaders announced Zelenskyy would deliver a virtual address to the House and Senate on Wednesday.
The tweet drew criticism from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Elena Kuhn.
"Jack Lombardi's shameful tweet promoted dangerous Russian disinformation and echoed rhetoric from the most extreme elements of the Republican Party," Kuhn said in an email.
Lombardi is among the Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic incumbent Lauren Underwood of Naperville in the 14th District. A promoter of the conservative "America First" mantra, he's a regular critic on Twitter of President Joe Biden, Democrats and what he's called the "radical left."
The 14th District encompasses parts of Kane, Will, DeKalb, Kendall, LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties. The other GOP candidates are Mike Koolidge of Rochelle, Scott Gryder of Oswego, James Marter of Oswego, Susan Starrett of North Aurora and Jaime Milton of Fox River Grove.