EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 30, 2010

Rep. Torrisi regrets vulgar e-mail response to talk-show host

NORTH ANDOVER — State Rep. David Torrisi regrets using vulgar language in an e-mail response to an invitation to appear on a conservative radio talk show, but defends the sentiment behind his refusal to appear on the show.

"I responded from my BlackBerry," the North Andover Democrat said yesterday. "It was probably a little impulsive on my part."

Torrisi's insulting two-sentence reply was sent to a WTKK producer who had e-mailed Torrisi asking him to appear on Michael Graham's show to discuss his opposition to legislation barring state benefits for illegal immigrants. Torrisi e-mailed back: "Michael Graham is an (expletive). He can go (expletive) himself for all I care."

Graham's website posted a copy of the e-mail, which Torrisi confirmed he sent.

"I obviously regret the choice of words, but I don't regret the intent," Torrisi told The Eagle-Tribune. "To me, people like Michael Graham and other radio talk show hosts ... I don't think they add anything to the debate at all."

The House voted 82-75 Wednesday to send Rep. Jeff Perry's proposal to study, killing it for the year and sparking an outcry from supporters of the proposal, who say illegal immigrants should not have access to taxpayer-supported services.

Torrisi said the state already does "a pretty good job" of screening immigrants applying for public benefits, adding that he believes exceptions should be made for children who grow up in the United States and people who overstay their visas to care for sick relatives here.

"I think the subject of immigration is much more complex than these talk radio hosts make it out to be," said Torrisi. "I said what I said and I probably shouldn't have used those words, but I still feel the same way about talk radio hosts, left-wingers and right-wingers alike."

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