State’s New Congressman uses racially charged term in letter calling for state health secretary to resign
Wisconsin’s newly elected Congressman, Sen. Tom Tiffany, used a racially charged phrase in a letter calling for the state’s secretary of public health to resign Thursday, then implied she was killing the state of Wisconsin and “would leave with Wisconsin’s corpse” if she remained in office.
In calling for Secretary-designee Andrea Palm’s resignation, the Republican senator from Minoqua referred to the coronavirus as the Wuhan virus, a term Chinese Americans have stated is offensive and racist ever since President Trump began referring to the virus as either the Chinese or Wuhan virus in March.
“New data shows us how we can make a targeted response to the Wuhan virus, but Ms. Palm will hear none of it,” wrote Tiffany.
Palm was appointed by Evers to the position more than a year ago. The GOP-controlled Legislature has yet to confirm her appointment as well as several others.
The tone and implication of the letter prompted Gov. Tony Evers to halt a press briefing with reporters when the letter was brought to his attention.
“It is my understanding that Sen. Tiffany has just released a statement calling for Andrea Palm to resign because she mishandled the ‘Wuhan virus’ and is killing Wisconsin,” Evers said. “This is an insane statement.”
This is not the first time Republicans have called on Palm to resign since the spread of the coronavirus prompted Evers and Palm to shutter businesses and ask residents to stay at home. They, like Tiffany again repeated in his letter, believe it is Palm’s fault the state’s economy is taking a downward turn.
“Wisconsin’s economy and health care system are collapsing. Small businesses are closing their doors for good. Tens of thousands of people are struggling to apply for unemployment in an attempt to survive the storm she caused,” wrote Tiffany.
He added: “Ms. Palm came here as Governor Evers’ hired gun, and she will leave with Wisconsin’s corpse if she continues.”
The letter comes two days after Tiffany defeated Tricia Zunker, president of the Wausau School Board and an associate justice for the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court, in a race in the 7th Congressional district, and a day after the Supreme Court ruled it was not in Palm’s power to extend the state’s safer-at-home order.
“We talk about trying to tone down the rhetoric and I’ve done everything I can today to do that,” Evers said. “To make a statement like that about someone who has dedicated her life to saving lives? Please sir. Give us a break. You’re headed to Washington, D.C. I know you are better than this.”