TRENTON — City Council President Kathy McBride apologized Tuesday night for using the phrase "Jew her down," which has triggered a political firestorm that extended to Washington, D.C.

The New Jersey Globe first reported that McBride used the phrase during a Sept. 5 closed-door meeting while discussing a personal injury claim.

"I’m sad for her that they were able to wait her out and Jew her down for $22,000 worth of pins in her knee that can never, ever be repaired. I am so sad for her as a Trenton resident,” The Globe reported McBride as saying said, citing a recording of the meeting.

All of New Jersey's 12 members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday called for the resignation of two council members who defended McBride's use of the phrase.

“Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world and right here in New Jersey. We must never accept bigotry or hatred in any form. We are calling on both the Trenton Councilman and Councilwoman to apologize immediately or resign," the congressional members said in a statement.

At the start of Tuesday night's meeting, McBride apologized to "the community at large," according to The Trentonian's coverage of the meeting. She also said it “was not made to offend or to insult anyone.”

The apology did not put an end to the matter.

A resolution by Councilman Jerrell Blakeley to censure fellow council members Robin Vaughn and George Muschal for defending McBride's use of the phrase failed by a 5-2 vote.

Blakeley, a Democrat like his colleagues, called for the resignations of the five who voted against his resolution.

"They are an absolute embarrassment to this city," Blakeley wrote.

On Wednesday afternoon, Vaughn issued an apology and asked for forgiveness.

"I defended my council colleague for using the derogatory term 'Jew down.' I do not believe her to hate Jews nor harbor anti-Semitic feelings. Nonetheless, my defense of her behavior was an error of my judgment," Vaughn said.

"I am thankful that the council president chose to apologize but we do have to hear from the other council people," Mayor Reed Gusciora told New Jersey 101.5 on Wednesday before Vaughn's apology. "We need to reinforce that the capital city is inclusive of everyone, all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. In order for the city to move forward we need to have everyone involved."

Gusciora said it was "appropriate given that congresspeople and many people in New Jersey certainly cringe when the president says something off color. If we're going to be excited about that, we certainly should not be committing those kind of gaffes at home."

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on Monday criticized McBride for using the "offensive" term.

The officials in Trenton are the latest to get caught up in controversy over the use of anti-Semitic phrase. In Paterson, Councilman Michael Jackson said during a meeting that a developer was trying to "Jew us down." Jackson — who, like McBride, is black and not Jewish — was immediately rebuked by officials at the meeting. 

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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