Pennsylvania Rep. Russ Diamond


Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) blatantly and unapologetically violates the unwritten Rules on who we may be critical of or parody and who we may not.

“I call on the governor to immediately resign, right after he dismisses Dr. Rachel Levine as secretary of Health for her horrendous performance as the top health official in the state, and her actions to rescue her own mother from the deadly setting of a personal care home without informing the rest of Pennsylvania of the dangers within.” Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon)

Russ Diamond: Instead of censuring me over mask statement, Gov. Wolf and health secretary Levine should leave

By Jan Murphy, pennlive.com 18 hrs ago

Russ Diamond: Instead of censuring me over mask statement, Gov. Wolf and health secretary Levine should leave

Pennsylvania Rep. Russ Diamond didn’t take long to respond to Gov. Tom Wolf’s call on the House of Representatives to censure Diamond for his “thinly veiled attack on the LGBTQ community.”

The Lebanon County Republican returned fire two hours later by issuing a statement calling on Wolf to resign but not before removing Dr. Rachel Levine as state health secretary. Diamond has been critical of Wolf’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Levine’s response.

Nearly parroting the words that Wolf used to describe Diamond’s defense of those who don’t wear a mask, Diamond’s statement begins: “Abhorrent, unlawful, political and deadly. These are the words that describe my disdain for Wolf’s actions, not just today but throughout the COVID-19 disaster emergency.”

He goes on: “Secretary of Health Rachel Levine made a strong statement in defense of her lifestyle and condemned hatred and intolerance. I, of course, condemn all hatred and intolerance. However, I found it ironic that Levine fails to see that her own policies, and those of the governor, are creating similar hatred and intolerance across Pennsylvania.”

Levine on Tuesday had addressed recent transphobic attacks against her and others in the LGBTQ community. The next day, Diamond issued a statement using virtually the same language as Levine’s statement, but used those words to defend those who choose not to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Penn State Health PRIDE

PA Secretary of Health, Rachel Levine, MD speaks at the Penn State Health PRIDE event Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. The event was hosted by the LGBTQ+ and Allies Affinity Group.

Gov. Wolf on Wednesday called for Republican House leaders to introduce a resolution censuring Diamond for the statement.

Diamond said the governor and Levine’s messaging for universal mask-wearing has divided people and “are not the hallmarks of a free society, nor a tolerant one.” He went on to say that the Wolf Administration’s COVID-19 response contributed to the death of more than 4,800 nursing home residents. He also repeated his condemnation of the governor joining a protest march against racial discrimination.

He also brought up the governor’s decision to withhold federal CARES funding from Lebanon County as punishment for the county GOP leaders’ decision to allow businesses to reopen in violation of Wolf’s phased reopening plans, which now is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the county.

Diamond also was critical of Wolf’s silence about a resolution offered calling for the censure of Philadelphia Democratic Rep. Brian Sims for his recorded verbal attacks on anti-abortionists outside an abortion clinic in Philadelphia last year.

“I call on the governor to immediately resign, right after he dismisses Dr. Rachel Levine as secretary of Health for her horrendous performance as the top health official in the state, and her actions to rescue her own mother from the deadly setting of a personal care home without informing the rest of Pennsylvania of the dangers within.”

He said Levine, a transgender woman, “may live as she wishes, as I have always firmly believed any American has the right to, including those who desire the freedom to make their own personal safety decisions.”

Jan Murphy may be reached at jmurphy@pennlive.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.

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