Tom O'Mara (Courtesy of his website)

Ithaca, N.Y. — The Ithaca area’s New York State Senator has apologized for a profanity-laden “outburst” in December that was caught on video.

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State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-58th District) was taped arguing with someone who approached him with questions about the proposed expansion of a natural gas facility on the shore of Seneca Lake.

The Albany Times Union, which obtained a copy of the video, published a story on Tuesday showing the exchange. In it, O’Mara curses at a man — whose identity is unknown — in a parking lot.

The encounter occurred in December 2014, the Albany Times Union reported. The newspaper called O’Mara’s “outburst” a “…volcanic 40-second rant peppered with profanities.”

The video shows O’Mara ranting to and swearing at the man who approached him with questions. O’Mara’s tone significantly escalates about half-way through the 4th minute.

“You’re an (expletive, expletive), get the (expletive) out of my face right now. Now!,” O’Mara says.

“Move, move! Move, (expletive). I’ve had enough of you, and your kind, get the (expletive) out of here!”

In response, the man says: “I’m out, man … I’m out; I’m out; I’ve moved. I’m — I was never in his face.”

Tom O’Mara (Courtesy of his website)

In a statement given to to The Voice (and republished in full below), O’Mara says the questioner orchestrated a “clever trap” and that the man’s actions began “to feel a little threatening.”

Still, O’Mara says he takes responsibility and apologizes for the words he used.

“It’s regrettable that the exchange ultimately turned heated and, as an elected official, I regret the words and tone that were used. I still don’t like the underhanded tactics, but I should know better,” O’Mara’s statement said.

Here’s O’Mara’s statement, republished in full, in response to the incident:

“In my role serving the people of my district, I’m often approached by constituents who have legitimate questions or need assistance. I’m always happy to talk, regardless of the hour or situation. Sadly, you can’t be too sure of everyone’s intentions anymore and so it’s just common sense to stay cautious.

“On the evening of December 13th, my wife and I were approached while getting into our car by someone we did not know, seemingly to ask a question about a sensitive issue. It began cordially and we tried to have a courteous and polite conversation, even though we were in a dimly lit parking lot with a stranger, who never identified himself and who still hasn’t, leaning in my opened car door.

“It soon became obvious that this individual’s intent was not to have a brief or friendly discussion and be on his way. Truthfully, it began to feel a little threatening with this person leaning into our car, at close proximity for several minutes and becoming condescending to my wife. My only concern became personal safety and to get this person out of our car and away from us.

“In hindsight, and especially in light of the fact that he was surreptitiously recording the exchange, I should not have attempted to respond to an unidentified stranger who was clearly looking to give me and my wife a hard time for his own purposes. He picked the wrong time and the wrong place to pull a stunt — a dimly lit parking lot while leaning into someone’s vehicle to secretly record a conversation without ever truthfully identifying yourself. He may have thought he was just pulling off some kind of a clever trap, but he should understand that there’s no way for us to know his intentions at the time.

“It’s regrettable that the exchange ultimately turned heated and, as an elected official, I regret the words and tone that were used. I still don’t like the underhanded tactics, but I should know better.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.