Local lawmaker criticized for joke about ‘suspicious package’ at CNN headquarters

Democrat Rebecca Howard and Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown

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Democrat Rebecca Howard and Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown

A candidate for the 53rd Ohio House District seat has criticized her opponent as “crass and irresponsible” following a Facebook post that included a joke referencing the “suspicious package” that resulted in CNN’s New York headquarters being evacuated Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Candice Keller, the state representative from the 53rd District, posted a Facebook comment about a story covering the package at CNN.

Keller, R-Middletown, wrote: “Maybe they thought the package contained real news?” referring to a story with the headline: “’Suspicious package’ prompts evacuation at CNN’s New York headquarters.”

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When contacted by this news organization, Keller did not answer whether she thought her Facebook post was inappropriate. She issued this statement: “I’m glad our law-enforcement professionals caught (suspected bombmaker) Cesar Sayoc quickly. Terrorists of any sort need to be apprehended, prosecuted, and when convicted, given harsh sentences.”

Keller represents the 53rd Ohio House District, which includes northern and western Butler County. She is running against Rebecca Howard, a Democrat from Reily Twp., in the Nov. 6 general election.

On Friday, Howard tweeted: “This is what the current rep for my district thinks is an appropriate response to a bomb threat. This is crass and irresponsible. This is why I’m running.”

Other area candidates responded to Keller’s Facebook post.

“This type of comment has no place in public discourse. It was an irresponsible and divisive thing to say,” said Kathy Wyenandt, candidate for State House, 52nd District.

Todd Hall, Butler County Republican Party Executive Chairman, said: “It is disappointing that state representative Keller would attempt to joke about such a serious issue. Her comment was, hopefully, a knee jerk reaction and poor attempt at political humor. I believe, after some rethought, she will take a different tone. Let’s just be thankful that no one was hurt in this incident.”

George Lang, R,-West Chester Twp. and 52nd State House Representative, said: “I am thankful that no one was harmed in these recent incidents. It is clear that the rhetoric and venom must be reduced on both sides of the aisle. In that spirit, I am proud of the way in which I and my Democratic opponent have conducted our campaigns.”

Susan Vaughn, candidate for Ohio State Representative in the 51st District, said: “I find such comments to be insensitive and irresponsible. I expect more of an elected official.”

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