Baker Says State Official Under Investigation for Reported Racist Behavior

Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration has "no tolerance for intolerance" amid an investigation into Steven Florio, head of the Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, over a report he dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and made Nazi salutes in college

Massachusetts State House 2017
NBC10 Boston/NECN

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Wednesday his administration has "no tolerance for intolerance," but said it was too soon to decide whether Steven Florio, the commissioner of the state's Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, should lose his job over a report that he dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and made Nazi salutes while a member of fraternity in college.

The Boston Globe reported this week that Florio informed his staff of his racially insensitive behavior last month following Gallaudet University's suspension of the Kappa Gamma fraternity after photos surfaced of members wearing robes with pointed hoods that resembled those worn by the Ku Klux Klan and performing Nazi salutes.

At least one photo overlapped with Florio's time at the university for the deaf and hard of hearing, and the Globe reported that Florio told his staff he was not depicted in the photo, but had engaged in offensive behavior.

Asked if Florio should be allowed to retain his job, Baker said he first became aware of the situation about a week ago.

"There's an active investigation going on. Obviously, there's no tolerance for intolerance, and I'll leave it at that. But I think it's important that this be investigated and that investigation is going on right now," Baker said.

Given the reported existence of emails in which Florio admits to dressing up and saluting, Baker was pressed on what more he needed to know to make a decision.

"It was 30 years ago. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to follow up," Baker said.

Copyright State House News Service
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