TRENTON — A conference call among City Council members on the city's COVID-19 situation degenerated into vulgar name-calling on Saturday, with one councilwoman calling the city's first openly gay mayor a "pedophile" and insults being tossed back and forth.

Multiple groups are now calling on Councilwoman Robin Vaughn to resign, saying her use of homophobic slurs and insults was intolerable. Audio of the meeting has been released by Mayor Reed Gusciora's office.

The audio is published in part below. It can be heard in full here (warning: includes profanity and slurs).

The meeting began to deteriorate after discussion about a $3 million federal grant for a Community Development Block Grant Program.  Vaughn on social media has criticized what she calls "do-nothing" charities supported by the mayor, and he repeatedly challenged her to name one.

"I have complained to DCA about certain non-profits that have gotten millions of dollars over the years and we see nothing on the ground from them, and I'm not the only one complaining about them," Vaughn said.

In the audio, Gusciora and Vaughn go back and forth about the charity issue. The mayor accuses Vaughn of not really having a list of questionable charities. Vaughn said she does and Gusciora, asks her to "rattle it off" adding that the meeting is "confidential."

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"Why do I have to do that here? And why are you advocating for a non-profit? Which one are you advocating for? You should be advocating for the residents of this city to assure that those non-profits are delivering the services," Vaughn said before being interrupted by the mayor, who called her "radioactive."

The discussion escalates as Gusciora calls Vaughn "a 4-year-old" and "an idiot" and she calls him "a child."

Vaughn and Gusciora talk over each other before the mayor says he'll need to end the meeting

"You're a motherf**king drug addict pedophile. That's what you are. You're an old pedophile," Vaughn says  to a gasp to someone on the call. She accuses Gusciora of running drugs out of his office and again calls him a pedophile.

Councilman Joseph Harrison joins the discussion and admonishes Vaughn and other members of the council for not taking action.

"How long is the council going to put up with this? This is embarrassing. The council president and everyone else, how do you put up with this? How do you allow someone to curse and act like this? This is embarrassing. This totally is. Where's my colleagues at? Where the rest of you at? Wake up," Harrison said.

The other council members, join in with members telling Vaughn to "shut up" and "take your medicine" and to let others speak. Another calls her an "a**hole" who needs a lobotomy."

At one point, the mayor tells Vaughn: "I'm gonna sue your f**kin' a**." At another, Vaughn says the mayor is "running around with young boys."

The recording ends as members spend 10 minutes attacking Vaughn for going after the mayor and saying she will lose if she runs against Gusciora for mayor.

Garden State Equality in a statement called Vaughn "unfit to serve the Trenton" because of the slurs and because of her past defense of another official's use of the term "Jew her down."

"Any decent-minded New Jerseyan who believes in the success and future of our state's capital should denounce this hateful rhetoric and call for her to step down immediately," Garden State Equality said.

Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund called Vaughn "toxic and unfit to serve in an elective body" and also called for her to step down.

“Trenton, like the rest of the nation, is in the midst of a pandemic and it is sad an important coronavirus briefing among elected officials would devolve into such pandemonium. The presiding officer had a duty to call Vaughn to order or recess the meeting when she launched her screaming tirade, her colleagues had a responsibility to end the quorum until civility was restored, and the Mayor should have tempered his response. But what is clear is that Vaughn is toxic and unfit to serve in an elective body," Parker said.

Gusciora said in a statement from his office he regretted getting into the heated exchange.

“Government leaders at all levels will disagree on the best course of action, and sometimes emotions can get the best of us," he said. "But Councilwoman Vaughn chose to launch into a vitriolic attack full of homophobic slurs, false accusations, and hateful comments. This was beyond the pale. The toxic and harassing language used by the councilperson has no place even in the most heated of arguments.”

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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