January 7, 2005
Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen
COHEN BLASTS LONEGAN
FOR POLITICIZING TSUNAMI DISASTER
Says Candidate Wrong to Use 'Environmental Holocaust' for Political Gain
(UNION) - Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen today ripped Republican gubernatorial aspirant Steve Lonegan for attempting to politicize the plight of the millions of people suffering in South Asia as a result of last month's devastating tsunami.
Earlier today, Lonegan released a statement critical of legislation Cohen and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-Somerset) are introducing to provide $1 million in state funds for disaster relief efforts.
"Candidate Lonegan should be ashamed of himself for trying to turn one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recorded history into a soapbox for him and his campaign," said Cohen. "His comments are an insult to the hundred of thousands of New Jerseyans of South Asian descent who are concerned for the well-being of loved ones half a world away. If there ever was a time to put politics aside and do what is right by humanity, it is right now."
Cohen said government has a long tradition augmenting donations by private citizens to disaster victims with additional humanitarian support. He noted that history goes back to President Richard Nixon's decision to aid victims of the Biafran famine and continued through Ronald Reagan's donations to victims of the Chernobyl disaster.
"It is ironic that Lonegan thinks that a donation to the tsunami victims amounting to 12 cents from each resident of New Jersey is excessive, but is apparently unwilling to use his right-wing rhetoric to criticize a fiscally-conservative Republican president's planned $350 million contribution," said Cohen. "Lonegan's complaint bears all the hallmarks of a cheap political stunt orchestrated to boost name recognition."
Cohen concluded by saying Lonegan's comments on the human tragedy reflect a coldness and cruelty unparalleled in New Jersey history.
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January 7, 2005