BOSTON (CBS) – Steven Florio, the commissioner for Massachusetts’ Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is under investigation after he is accused of wearing garb that resembled a Ku Klux Klan robe while he was in a college fraternity.
According to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 509, Florio admitted to dressing like a Nazi while a fraternity brother of Kappa Gamma at Gallaudet University in the late 1980s.
“This not only calls the Commissioner’s moral integrity into question, but has left his staff fearful for their jobs and safety,” the union, which represents employees at the commission, wrote in a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker.
Gallaudet University recently suspended the fraternity after an anti-Semitic photo from 1988 resurfaced. Florio was reportedly not in that photo.
The union said that during virtual meetings on June 22 with SEIU Local 509 members, Florio “admitted to dressing as a Nazi and saluting while wearing garb resembling the uniforms of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Florio did not apologize for the incident, the union said.
“The Commissioner’s blasé attitude and dismissive response left much to be desired,” SEIU Local 509 wrote in its letter to Baker.
An Executive Office of Health and Human Services spokesman issued a statement about the allegations.
“The Executive Office of Health and Human Services takes these allegations seriously and is conducting a thorough internal investigation,” the spokesman said.
Baker was asked during his Wednesday press conference if he believed Florio should keep his job.
“We just heard about this issue 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,” said Baker. “It was 30 years ago. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to follow up on some of that.”