A Republican political operative who is running for Staten Island borough president apologized on Tuesday after she drew widespread condemnation for saying “Heil Hitler” during a protest against coronavirus restrictions.
The politician, Leticia Remauro, made the remark as she was recording a video of herself during a protest on Dec. 2 outside Mac’s Public House, a tavern in Staten Island that has become a rallying point against virus restrictions. The video drew attention after it was sent to a reporter with NY1, who shared it on Twitter on Monday night
In the video, Ms. Remauro expresses support for Mac’s and other small businesses.
She then pans to a line of officers outside the tavern, saying that she is there to “stand up for our right, the right to pay taxes so that we can pay the salaries of these good men and women, who yes are only doing their job, but not for nothing, sometimes you’ve got to say ‘Heil Hitler,’ not a good idea to send me here, we’re not going to do it.”
Ms. Remauro has been involved in Staten Island politics for some 30 years. In 2000, she headed up the campaign of George W. Bush in New York, and her marketing firm was recently employed by the congressional campaign of Nicole Malliotakis, who unseated a Democrat in November with the help of President Trump.
The video, which emerged on Monday, drew widespread outrage on social media from politicians and the public, with many people calling for Ms. Remauro to renounce her candidacy for borough president. Some people also called on Ms. Malliotakis to condemn Ms. Remauro’s words.
In a post on Twitter on Tuesday, she said her words were a “VERY BAD ANALOGY likening the actions of the de Blasio & Cuomo against small businesses to those of a Nazi dictator.”
In an emailed statement on Tuesday, Ms. Remauro said there was “never an appropriate comparison to be made” to Nazi Germany or Hitler.
“What I said is not reflective of anything I feel or think about the horrors of the holocaust or the enduring trauma impacting survivors and subsequent generations, or the vital forever necessity of holocaust education,” Ms. Remauro said.
Ms. Remauro lists herself on LinkedIn as the president and chief executive of the Von Agency, a marketing and public relations firm. According to data from the Federal Election Commission, Ms. Malliotakis’s congressional campaign paid the Von Agency $90,158.98 for media consulting from 2019 through 2020.
Ms. Remauro’s partner at the Von Agency handled advertising on social media for the campaign, according to Ms. Malliotakis’s congressional office. Ms. Remauro also worked for six months on Ms. Malliotakis’s unsuccessful mayoral campaign in 2017.
Ms. Malliotakis did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in her own post on Twitter, she condemned Ms. Remauro’s words as “shocking and wrong.”
“At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across our city and especially on Staten Island, there is no excuse for such words being uttered,” she said.
The Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group, reported a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States in 2019, more than in any year since the group began keeping track four decades ago.
The emergence of the video came days after a violent mob supporting Mr. Trump broke into the U.S. Capitol, drawing heightened scrutiny of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists who were part of the riot and have supported the president. Photographs from last Wednesday’s riot show a man parading the Confederate flag through the Capitol, and another wearing a black sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “Camp Auschwitz.”
Social media posts from Ms. Remauro suggest she was present in Washington last week where people broke into the Capitol building. But she told The New York Post that she had been in her hotel room during the rioting and had not participated.
In a tweet in September, Ms. Remauro said that “there will be no peaceful inauguration,” no matter the winner, and blamed Antifa.
“This isn’t about getting rid of Trump its about bringing down America,” she said.
According to her campaign biography, she served as a community liaison to Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Gov. George E. Pataki, and worked on a diversity program for Goldman Sachs. She has also been the chair of the Staten Island Republican Party.
In addition to running for borough president, Ms. Remauro was until recently the chair of the board of the Staten Island Hebrew Public Charter School, according to the school’s website. Jonathan Rosenberg, the president and chief executive of the school, said Ms. Remauro had offered her resignation on Monday night, and the school accepted it.
She is also the secretary of the Staten Island Downtown Alliance, a business advocacy group.
Ms. Remauro has posted several videos in recent months about the challenges businesses face because of the pandemic.
In a video she posted on Facebook in December, she said, “I have no words except I don’t feel like I live in America anymore.”
“I feel like we live in some other communist country,” Ms. Remauro said.
Azi Paybarah contributed reporting.